Over the last month, I received many representations from councillors and constituents in Wycombe expressing deep concern about the deteriorating conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and the welfare of Rohingya Muslims in that region. They are rightly concerned at the dreadful situation of people fleeing the conflict.
Earlier in September, I wrote to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office expressing my support for both British humanitarian aid for the Rohingya people at this moment of crisis and for the Government working with the international community to resolve this situation urgently and allow the Rohingya people to live in peace. I received the Minister’s response last week.
The Minister stated that
“The UK is concerned about the situation in northern Rakhine. As a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, the UK has now raised Burma twice with the Council. On 13th September we secured agreement for a statement expressing concern about reports of excessive violence in Rakhine and ensure full access for humanitarian relief.”
The Minister highlighted a number of actions being taken by the British Government including
- Meetings between the Foreign Secretary and other Foreign Ministers with senior Burmese representatives to urge Burma to heed the Security Council’s call.
- The suspension of all education courses currently provided to members of the Burmese military.
- The Foreign Secretary has spoken to the State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to raise the Government’s concerns about the continuing violence, the need for any allegations of human rights to be investigated, and for humanitarian access to be granted to affected communities.
- The British Government has offered support to improve living conditions and citizenship for all communities in Rakhine, particularly those facing severe discrimination such as the Rohingya.
- On 14th September, the International Development Secretary announced that the UK is providing an additional £25 million to meet the urgent needs of both countries affected by the violence in Rakhine State. This is in addition to £5 million announced on 8th September in the immediate aftermath and £5.9 million already programmed in Bangladesh before the latest escalation.
I am pleased that the UK is at the forefront of responding to the plight of the Rohingya refugees now in Bangladesh. The UK is also one of the largest bilateral donors to the humanitarian crisis. The Minister has assured me that he will continue to raise the UK’s concerns about this issue too.
Please visit this link where you can read the Minister’s letter in full. Burma-Letter.pdf.