Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Rohingya children

Thank you for writing to me about the plight of Rohingya children and the importance of holding perpetrators of crimes against children to account.

I have been appalled by the reports of the atrocities committed by Burmese military and Buddhist extremists against the Rohingya people. As the Prime Minister and other world leaders have clearly stated, what took place in Rakhine State appears to be a textbook case of ethnic cleansing.

I am proud of the compassionate leadership the UK Government has shown by being the largest bilateral donor of humanitarian aid to relief work in Rakhine.

The Department for International Development is helping to provide crucial services including psycho-social counselling, reproductive health services, child-friendly spaces, safe shelters and legal advice to women and girls who are vulnerable to domestic violence, sexual harassment and exploitation in the refugee camps. In addition, the Government is also supporting further UNICEF initiatives to protect children in Rakhine State.

The UK has also been leading international community's political and diplomatic response to the Rakhine crisis.

The UN Security Council adopted a presidential statement on Burma proposed by the UK and France in November 2017, demanding an immediate end to the use of excessive military force in Rakhine, greater access for the provision of humanitarian aid, and safe passage for Rohingya refugees to return home.

In December 2017, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution co-sponsored by the UK which set up a UN Fact Finding Mission (FFM) on human rights abuses in Burma, and subsequent resolutions that gave it the mandate and resources to collect, preserve and share evidence. Following the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations, the Government is now discussing with international partners how to support evidence-collecting efforts, especially in relation to sexual violence.

The UK Government is clear that the responsibility of these atrocities lies squarely with the Burmese military. Karen Pierce, British Ambassador to the UN, called for a "proper investigation" to be launched into alleged crimes committed by the Burmese military against the Rohingya people, during a UN Security Council (UNSC) envoy visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh in March this year. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has repeatedly urged the Burmese Government to heed the Security Council's calls and cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council's Fact Finding Mission.

I would like to see the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against children brought to justice, and will continue to support the Government's work in achieving this and speak up for this cause in Parliament.