This week, ITV News and BBC News have reported from Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on the Rohingya crisis, showing disturbing footage of victims of violence and persecution who have made the treacherous journey from Burma to Bangladesh.
The UK is at the forefront of the humanitarian response to the Rohingya crisis, providing £129 million since August 2017 to help ensure hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people get the vital food, clean water and medication they need. We are working closely with a range of UN agencies – including UNICEF UNHCR, UNFPA, WFP, and IOM – and alongside NGOs such as the Red Cross and Action Against Hunger.
You may have seen footage on ITV News last night (Thursday 21 June 2018) of a Red Cross field hospital, treating children with infections. The UK has helped to establish 10 health centres in Cox’s Bazar, including Red Cross emergency hospitals and clinics, and we have helped to treat almost 100,000 people since October 2017.
UK aid is providing life-saving medical support to around 50,000 women – many of whom will give birth during the rainy season – so they can have access to safe midwifery care. We are also giving survivors of sexual and gender based violence psychological support and safe spaces to help protect them.
Conditions in the huge camps near the Burmese border are set to become even more life-threatening as the rainy season worsens. Fragile and cramped makeshift shelters are struggling to withstand the elements and there is a strong possibility that fatal diseases could spread more rapidly.
The UK is also providing necessary materials to strengthen shelters from the rains and we are supporting a large vaccination campaign against cholera in and around the Cox’s Bazar camps that will benefit almost a million people. We have prepositioned humanitarian supplies so that aid can continue to get through, even if roads are damaged.
The British public care about this crisis and they have shown remarkable generosity raising around £27 million for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Appeal. This includes £5 million which has been matched pound for pound by the UK Government.
The Bangladeshi Government has shown enormous generosity in hosting almost a million vulnerable Rohingya.
The UK has been clear in its condemnation of the terrible atrocities that have occurred in Rakhine. There is no doubt: we recognise this has been ethnic cleansing. We call for immediate humanitarian access to Northern Rakhine.
The International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said recently:
The scale of this crisis is growing daily. With the devastating cyclone and monsoon season looming, even more lives could be lost, landslides could wipe out shelters and fatal diseases could spread.
The UK is leading the way to help vaccinate people against a deadly cholera outbreak, strengthen shelters, and provide vital food and water to vulnerable Rohingya families who have already been forced to flee their homes because of brutal violence and persecution.
The Bangladeshi Government must now use their expertise to ensure Rohingya families are saved from the dangerous rains.
Across the globe countries were quick to respond to the plight of the Rohingya people last year, but what is needed is a longer-term commitment to these vulnerable men, women and children who have suffered so much.