COLOMBO: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for the setting up of UN supervised “safe zones” for the Rohingyas in Myanmar, to protect them from further attacks by the Myanmarese Security Forces.

Speaking at the 72 nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday, the Bangladesh Prime Minister asked the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to send a “fact-finding team” to Myanmar. She told the world body that Bangladesh is now putting up more than 800,000 Rohingyas subjected to “ethnic cleansing” in Myanmar.

“All civilians irrespective of religion and ethnicity must be protected in Myanmar,” Sheikh Hasina said.

The Prime Minister appealed to the Myanmar government to “ensure sustainable return of all forcibly displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh to their homes in Myanmar,” and accept the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission and “immediately implemented them unconditionally and in its entirety.”

Sheikh Hasina underscored the root causes of the recent recurrence of the Rohingya crisis and said that she has come to the UN “.with a heavy heart.”

“The hungry, distressed and hopeless” Rohingyas from Myanmar who took shelter in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh” are “fleeing ethnic cleansing in their own country where they have been living for centuries”, she said.

“I can feel their pain as I, along with my sister, had been a refugee for 6 years after my father, the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and almost all members of my family, were assassinated in 1975.”

Dwelling on the current situation which has put a colossal burden on Bangladesh, the Prime Minister said that her country is now sheltering over 800,000 forcibly displaced Rohingyas.

“We are horrified to see that the Myanmar authorities are laying landmines along their stretch of the border to prevent the Ronhingyas from returning to Myanmar. This people must be able to return to their homeland in safety, security and dignity,” she emphasized.

While thanking the members of the Security Council and also the Secretary General for their proactive attempts to stop atrocities and bring in peace, and stability in the Rakhine State of Myanmar, the Bangladesh Prime Minister called upon “the United Nations and the international community to take immediate and effective measures for a permanent solution to this protracted Rohingya crisis.”