Bangladesh has told the United Nations Security Council that it cannot take in any more Rohingya refugees.

Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told the body Thursday: “I regret to inform the council that Bangladesh would no longer be in a position to accommodate more people from Myanmar.”

He accused Myanmar of making “hollow promises and various obstructionist approaches” in the negotiations to return the Rohingyas to Myanmar.

“Is Bangladesh paying the price for being responsive and responsible in showing empathy to a persecuted minority population of a neighboring country?” Haque asked. “Not a single Rohingya has volunteered to return to Rakhine due to the absence of conducive environment there.”

Hau Do Suan, Myanmar’s ambassador, said his country needs more time in its efforts to repatriate the Rohingyas. He asked the council to consider the “huge physical as well as psychological barriers” in the process of returning the Rohingyas. “It takes time and patience as well as courage to build trust and confidence among different communities in Rakhine.”

FILE - A Rohingya refugee boy walks out after collecting meat from a relief d
FILE – A Rohingya refugee boy walks out after collecting meat from a relief distribution center in the Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Aug. 23, 2018.

British Ambassador Karen Pierce said, “We are very disappointed that there hasn’t been more progress on getting the refugees back.” She added: “The scale of what has been done to the Rohingya Muslims and the allegations of crimes against humanity really mark this out as one of the most terrible events of this century so far.”

Russia and China, unlike the Western members of the council, believe that it is up to just Myanmar and Bangladesh to craft a solution for the return of the Rohingyas.

More than 720,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017 to escape persecution and violence in Myanmar. Because of previous refugee crises in Myanmar, Bangladesh currently is home to nearly one million Rohingya refugees.

The United Nations has praised the country’s generosity and has appealed to the authorities to continue to allow people fleeing violence in Myanmar to seek safety in Bangladesh.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is a predominantly Buddhist country. It has a long history of tension with its ethnic minorities, much of it based on religion. Southern Chin State is the only State in Myanmar with a Christian majority. It also is the poorest and least developed region in the country.

The large Rohingya Muslim population in Rakhine State continues to suffer discrimination and repression from the majority Buddhist community. Though they have lived in Myanmar for generations, the Rohingya are denied citizenship and remain stateless.

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