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Repatriation best option, Switzerland about Rohingya crisis 

This crisis needs political solution, says Swiss Aid chief 

UNB NEWS

Tuesday 03 October, 2017 07:16:56 pm

Repatriation best option, Switzerland about Rohingya crisis 

AKM Moinuddin, UNB Staff Writer 

Dhaka, Oct 3 (UNB) – Highly lauding Bangladesh’s efforts over Rohingya issue, Switzerland has said there are three solutions to such a large scale displacement, and the best solution is their return to their homeland with safety and dignity.

“You’ve three solutions (for this displacement) -- return, integration and settlement in the third country. The best solution is, of course, to bring people back to their homeland where they grew up and where they had their houses,” head of Swiss Humanitarian Aid Ambassador Manuel Bessler told UNB in an interview on Tuesday. 

He, however, said the solution (return) is only possible when all political actors agree on it and the countries (Bangladesh and Myanmar) have to come together agreeing on it. 

Ambassador Bessler, also Deputy Director General of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), visited a number of Rohingya settlements in Cox’s Bazar on October 1-3 as part of his three-day visit to obtain a firsthand impression of the latest influx of the displaced Rohingya population into Cox’s Bazar and the related humanitarian crisis.

“The emergency is not unprecedented in nature, unprecedented in scale and speed,” he said giving a big thank to the host community and Bangladesh authorities for coming forward with their generosity.

Bessler urged the host community to have patience so that any tension between the host community and Rohingyas can be avoided and addressed constructively. 

He said Switzerland is ready to help address the crisis in three defined ways -- financial support (through international orgs), supplying goods and providing its expertise who know how to deal with such emergencies. 

Responding to a question,  Bessler said Switzerland supports UN Secretary General’s call who called for ending violence immediately, give access to those people who need help and finding political solution to this crisis, including their return to their homeland with safety and dignity.

“This problem needs a political solution with all parties involved and engaged,” he said while talking to UNB at the Swiss Embassy in Dhaka wrapping up his Bangladesh visit.

About settlement in the third country, the Ambassador said it is an option and they have both very good and difficult experiences over such a plan. 

“Imagine you live in cold, you don’t know the language and in an unknown environment. Living like a blind though there is safety,” he said apparently laying emphasis on the return to their country. 

Asked about Bangladesh’s plan to shift Rohingyas from the existing place, he said he has heard about the island but he has not seen it. “The place will have to be chosen carefully where they can feel safe and secured. I think a lot of efforts are needed,” said Bessler.

He said Switzerland has expressed its strong commitment to helping address the crisis. “Only together with the international community and Bangladesh, we can find a solution.” 

Sharing his camps experience, he said, “They need help, they need protection. This is a huge wave of displacement.”

He said a lot of kids crossed the border -- some of them with families, some of them with friends and some of them are alone. “It’s a concern particularly the unaccompanied kids who lost their parents. They need even more protection.” 

Ambassador Bessler said it is encouraging to see Unicef and other national and international organizations are there on the ground. 

He laid emphasis on coordinated efforts to avoid the second wave of disaster -- outbreak of various diseases. 

Bessler highly appreciated Bangladesh authorities and Bangladesh Army for bringing discipline in aid distribution and crowd management.

Switzerland has promised to contribute 1.8 million Swiss Francs (approximately Tk 150.5 million) in emergency humanitarian assistance for the Rohingya arrivals through the Humanitarian Aid Unit of SDC. 

Out of this contribution, 1 million Swiss francs is being channelled through UNHCR and IOM to provide lifesaving support and respond to the immediate needs of the new arrivals. 

Switzerland is exploring opportunities to channel CHF 800’000 through International NGOs operating in Cox’s Bazar. Additional funds are currently being mobilised.