Speaking in a press conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Ms Richard said international pressure could play a part in changing the situation for Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar and in the refugee camps in Bangladesh. In particular, Myanmar’s desire for a “military-to-military” relationship gave Washington leverage when it came to calling for respect for human rights.
The US envoy was on a four-day fact-finding trip - after a week-long visit to Myanmar - to assess the situation for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
During her maiden visit to Bangladesh, she also went to the camps in Cox’s Bazaar to learn firsthand about the living conditions of the refugees, according to the report, praising the Bangladeshi authorities for their help with looking after the refugees.
About 20,000 Rohingya refugees are officially living in camps in Bangladesh, but there are said to be as many as 200,000 who are unregistered. More than 250,000 are said to have fled a Myanmar military crackdown in 1991-92 and a similar exodus occurred in 1977. Communal violence in 2012 led to more of the minority community trying to leave Myanmar.
Ms Richard said the Rohingya deserved Myanmar citizenship to end their statelessness, which she identified as a root cause of their plight and displacement.
She said that even though the United States takes refugees from different parts of the world, settlement in a third country cannot be a viable solution.
“[For] people who can never go back home, settlement in a third country is definitely an option,” she said. “The real solution for most Rohingya is that we should strive for [is] that they go home.”
She told the media in Dhaka that the Myanmar authorities also had “responsibility” to make changes so that their people can go back home.