Visiting the Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar, Swiss President Alain Berset yesterday said a refugee crisis of this scale put Bangladesh and the international community under enormous pressure to provide shelter and the most urgent services to more than 650'000 people.
He said his country was working closely with Bangladesh, UN agencies and other development partners.
Berset was talking to reporters during his visit to Kutupalong Rohingya camp in Ukiah of Cox's Bazar.
Putting emphasis on the voluntary, safe and dignified return of the people to their places of origin, he expressed concern about the outlook for the younger generation and the situation of the women and children who need increased protection.
He said Switzerland calls for the full implementation of the report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, chaired by Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the UN.
Berset met Rohingya refugees in Kutupalong and visited the Cox's Bazar Sadar Hospital which received Swiss contributions.
He appreciated the Bangladesh government for its massive efforts to welcome and host the communities from Myanmar, a press release of the Swiss embassy in Dhaka said yesterday.
He handed over the Swiss contributions, including hospital beds and medical equipment, to the hospital authorities.
The president, now on a four-day visit to Bangladesh, lauded the role of the doctors and the staff in providing medical treatment to the patients from the host community as well as from the Rohingya arrivals.
The embassy in the statement said Switzerland welcomes the progress made between the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh in working towards a lasting solution of the refugee crisis and underlines the need for any return of Rohingyas to Myanmar to be voluntary, safe and dignified.
The Swiss Humanitarian Aid has channeled 8 million Swiss Francs ($ 8.5 million) last year in emergency humanitarian assistance for the Rohingya arrivals. Switzerland will remain engaged in the humanitarian efforts this year with an additional support of $12 million. The support measures will also benefit the host community in Cox's Bazar, which have been affected by the refugee crisis, according to the press release.
Our Cox's Bazar correspondent adds: President Alain Berset arrived at Cox's Bazar at 11:00am yesterday. He visited the Rohingya Unit, set up by IOM, at the sadar hospital and talked to some patients there.
He then travelled to Ukhia and visited blocks D-4 and D-5 where the refugees were being provided with medical care and relief. He talked to officials engaged with the relief and medical operations as well as to the refugees.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor and high officials from the IOM, UNHCR and other organisations accompanied the Swiss president.