Ansar Ahmed Ullah The UK Government today, 4 October, pledged extra help for the victims of the Burmese military’s atrocities by doubling donations made by the British public to the cause.
In the last month alone, more than half a million men, women and children from the country have fled their homeland and made the perilous journey to neighbouring Bangladesh to seek refuge. The UK Government was quick to recognise the unprecedented scale of the crisis in Burma and the impact it’s having on Bangladesh, and has already given £30 million to provide lifesaving food, water, shelter and healthcare to victims of the violence. Britain continues to take a leading role in responding to the crisis as the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) today launches its emergency appeal for people fleeing Burma. The UK will double all donations up to £3 million, meaning even more aid is available for those in need.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said, ‘I am appalled that more than half a million Rohingya have been forced to flee their homes because of the horrific violence in Burma. The relentless denial of aid is a matter of life and death for those still in northern Rakhine. It is utterly intolerable that the military who are responsible for this inhumane catastrophe have not heeded calls for restraint, and pleas to allow those who are now refugees to return safely to their homes.’
The distribution of further lifesaving aid in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh began on 3 October. With UK’s partner, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) 10,000 shelter kits, 10,500 mats and 20,000 blankets will be distributed throughout this week. Emergency shelter for up to 26,355 people has already been provided since the first refugees made their way to Bangladesh.
The UK has been a leader in responding to the crisis, in speed and size, to help meet the urgent humanitarian needs of vulnerable men, women and children in both Bangladesh and Burma. In Rakhine State in Burma, aid workers have been getting British-funded humanitarian assistance to many tens of thousands of people. DFID’s partners are ready to provide emergency food to 30,000 people and to treat more than 3,000 severely malnourished children and pregnant women, but the Burmese authorities must stop refusing to grant access.
This lack of access on the Burma side means vital needs will not be met and lives lost. Britain is urgently calling upon the Burmese military to end the violence in Rakhine and the government of Burma to allow immediate and full humanitarian access and support for the people and communities affected.
The UK has raised the situation in three UN Security Council meetings and led work in the Council to develop an international response. The Foreign Secretary also held a Ministerial meeting of General Assembly members at the UN General Assembly on 18 September to drive this process forward. Mark Field, Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, visited Burma, including Rakhine State from 25 to 27 September. He held talks in Burma with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to press for an urgent resolution to the crisis in Rakhine.
On 28 September Minister Burt and Minister Field hosted a series of high-level talks in Dhaka, Bangladesh with key Government officials and aid agencies to identify how best to provide lifesaving support to the large influx of refugees in Bangladesh.
Britain is ready to support the recommendations of the Kofi Annan led Rakhine Advisory Commission to assist the long-term development of all people in Rakhine state, but right now the immediate action is for the Burmese security forces to end the violence and the government of Burma to allow humanitarian access.