Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar update on Rohingya crisis


February 15, 2018 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Bob Rae, Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar, today issued the following statement on his recent visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar:

“I have recently returned from visiting once again the large Rohingya camp in Bangladesh, and have spoken with senior officials in that country and in Myanmar. I also visited the town of Sittwe in central Rakhine State, and joined a number of diplomats and UN officials on a daylong helicopter tour of the north of Rakhine.

“Everything I saw last week has reinforced the deep challenges facing the Rohingya population in Myanmar, the need for accountability for potential crimes against humanity, and the urgency of greater co-operation and action.

“The monsoon season will hit within the next two months, and a recent report has estimated that as many as 100,000 people living in the camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh could be directly impacted by the heavy rain. Funding is also a critical issue for the year ahead in the camps.

“The agreement that has been signed by the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar calls for the secure and voluntary return of refugees who can establish their ties to Myanmar.

“While the building of reception centres and transition centres is laudable, these alone will not lead to a voluntary return to northern Rakhine. It will take a much more sustained approach on the part of the government of Myanmar, and a demonstrated willingness to take on extremist elements that are clearly opposed to the return of the Rohingya and their integration with full citizenship and human rights in Myanmar.

“The unwillingness of the government of Myanmar to allow full international access to Rakhine is also a severe challenge to any sense of confidence about security. This has to change.

“My aerial tour of northern Rakhine State revealed the full extent of the destruction of the Rohingya communities. This tour took place at the same time as there were further revelations about the execution of many Rohingya men. The rule of law requires that investigations be carried out by agencies beyond the control of the military. This basic standard is still not being met, and the incarceration of two Reuters journalists for exposing these executions cannot be justified.

“The international community must do whatever it can to ensure a strong, common approach to all aspects: camp conditions in Bangladesh; the difficult situation in Myanmar itself; and the need to deal with those responsible for crimes against humanity. More lives will be lost if we fail this challenge.”


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