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Burma: Rohingya

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL45, tabled on 27 May 2015

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the circumstances faced by Rohingya refugees; what action they have taken to encourage the international community to support these refugees; and, in particular, what discussions they have had with the Burmese authorities about the challenges facing the Rohingya people.

Answered on

4 June 2015

We remain deeply concerned by the situation of the Rohingya, including those in Rakhine State, and the thousands of people, including Rohingya, reported to be adrift in the Andaman Sea and Malacca Straits in desperate circumstances.

It is vital that Burma addresses the longer-term issues which lie at the root of the problem - namely the desperate conditions in which Rohingya communities are living in Rakhine state. On 18 May the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), called the Burmese Ambassador in London to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to express our concern at the situation, and press Burma to take urgent steps to deal with the humanitarian implications of the crisis, as well as the underlying causes in Rakhine State. Furthermore, on 18 May, our Ambassador in Rangoon joined EU and US Ambassadors in delivering a collective demarche to the Burmese government. We have had many similar conversations in the region and more widely, urging all those involved to work together towards a regional solution.

The UK is playing its part to resolve the dire situation in Rakhine. Since 2012, the UK has been one of the largest bilateral humanitarian donors in Rakhine State. We have invested over £18m in humanitarian support there, which helps to provide shelter; water sanitation and hygiene; nutrition and protection activities; and non-food items for over 122,000 people. We also strongly support the UN’s coordination of the international humanitarian response.

But it is also clear that this is an issue that requires a comprehensive regional response, and as such we welcomed the Thai authorities’ decision to call a regional summit on 29 May to tackle the broader issues. Our Ambassador in Bangkok attended this summit as an observer. We also very much welcome the 20 May decision from the Foreign Ministers of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, to provide humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants.