UNITED NATIONS, March 6 (Xinhua) -- A top UN official believes that conditions are not ripe for Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh to return to their homes in Myanmar, said the chief UN spokesman on Tuesday.
Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour, who has just visited Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, made the conclusion, said the UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.
During his visit, Gilmour interviewed refugees in Kutupalong-Balukhali, Cox's Bazar, which in the seven months since August 2017 has become the largest refugee camp in the world, holding approximately 700,000, mostly Rohingya refugees, Dujarric said.
"Safe, dignified and sustainable returns are of course impossible under current conditions," said Gilmour." The conversation now must focus on stopping the violence in Rakhine State, ensuring accountability for the perpetrators, and the need for Myanmar to create conditions for return."
The rate of killings and sexual violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State has subsided, he said. But Rohingya refugees who have recently arrived in Cox's Bazar provided credible accounts of continued violence.
Gilmour also pointed out that the Bangladeshi and international humanitarian response to the Rohingya crisis has been very impressive but that the rainy season threatens to have a devastating effect on refugee camps.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says the same refugees face a continuing threat from wild elephants who range the region.
The area now occupied by the Kutupalong refugee settlement in Cox's Bazar has long been an important habitat for East Asian Elephants, the agency said. There are about 40 elephants in the area and they move between Bangladesh and Myanmar in search of food.
Recently, 10 refugees have been killed by frightened elephants inside the settlements, UNHCR said. Other people have been injured and lost the little property they had.
"UNHCR's teaming up with the International Union for Conservation of Nature to bring about safe coexistence with wildlife in the refugee settlements," Dujarric said.
The main project already in action is the creation of 17 Elephant Response Teams, groups of trained people who know how to respond appropriately to an approaching elephant.
They also deter elephants from entering the camp.
"UNHCR hopes to see more support for these kinds of interventions in humanitarian contexts globally," the spokesman said.