By the Rohingya community
[22 October 2020] Today governments met to alleviate the suffering of millions of Rohingya refugees and internally displaced persons. On behalf of our fellow Rohingya, we thank the international community for its generosity and welcome the outpouring of support for the victims of Myanmar’s genocide. Yet as critical as humanitarian assistance remains, aid alone will not solve the Rohingya crisis. To secure a lasting and effective solution, governments must work urgently to press Myanmar to create a viable path for our people’s safe return to their homeland in Rakhine State.
Three years on from the 2017 genocide executed by the Burmese military, roughly one million refugees continue to languish in refugee camps in Bangladesh. The situation in Cox’s Bazar has become increasingly untenable. COVID19 has only worsened living conditions, making access to services even more challenging and exacerbating the risk of infectious diseases for Rohingya refugees. Increasingly, women and girls are targets of sexual and gender-based violence, including child marriage and trafficking. Desperation, and a feeling that the world has abandoned them, are mounting.
Life is no less precarious inside Rakhine State, where Rohingya are subject to ongoing persecution and harassment, confined to internal displacement camps, cut off from the outside world and deprived of their most basic rights.
The international pledging conference thus comes at a crucial time for the Rohingya and we welcome the leadership of the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and UNHCR for organising this event in support of the Rohingya refugees and their host communities. The global response must be proportional to the magnitude of the Rohingya crisis in ensuring access to food, clean water, education and adequate health care, as well as protecting women and children and help them cope with the enormous stresses and desperation they face daily.
But financial support is not enough. Unless Myanmar ends its policy of systematic discrimination and persecution of the Rohingya population, the crisis will continue. Only a sustainable political solution that lies in the repatriation of the Rohingya to Myanmar by addressing the root causes of our forced displacement can truly end the suffering of the Rohingya people. We urgently need to see a durable political solution from Myanmar which is why, in addition to requesting funding to implement the Join Response Plan for this year, we urge donors and the international community to step up their efforts and diplomatic actions to secure:
- Increased humanitarian assistance and protection to Rohingya refugees and IDPs.
- Conducive conditions to the safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable repatriation of Rohingya refugees to their places of origin, in consultation with the Rohingya community.
- A political solution for the crisis with a clear timeframe is urgently needed and the most practical approach could be to restore citizenship rights and ethnic rights of Rohingya.
For too long the Myanmar regime has been given a “free ride” by the international community. For too long, the international community has treated symptoms, but not the cause of our suffering. It is time to develop sustainable solutions that will enable our people to return home with safety and dignity.
Arakan Rohingya National Organisation
Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
Rohingya Women Welfare Society
Rohingya human rights activist
Senior Rohingya politicians inside Myanmar