Plight of Rohingya refugees

A Rohingya refugee woman walks with a child   in Balukhali refugee camp in the Bangladeshi district of Ukhia. Photograph: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images

A Rohingya refugee woman walks with a child in Balukhali refugee camp in the Bangladeshi district of Ukhia. Photograph: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images

 

Sir, – Over 626,000 Rohingya people have crossed into Bangladesh from Myanmar since early August 2017. These people are fleeing violence in Rakhine state where security forces are “clearing out terrorists”. The majority of the Rohingya are Muslims but they are not recognised as citizens in Myanmar and are therefore considered a “stateless” people. This is the third major movement of Rohingya into Bangladesh as a result of violence. The first happened in the mid-1970s. The second in 1992 when I was in Cox’s Bazar at the time to witness these terrified people seeking refuge in Bangladesh. The third major movement is the current crisis which has escalated since mid-August 2017.

On each of the previous occasions of movement of the Rohingya, they were encouraged to return to Myanmar, which many of them they did, only for them or their children to have to flee again.

The governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar have already agreed that the Rohingya should return to Myanmar on a “voluntary” basis as reported on November 23rd. However, until their citizenship is recognised and the systematic discrimination stops, there is little point in them returning to Myanmar.

Plan International is calling on the international community to prioritise the needs of vulnerable Rohingya children arriving in Bangladesh. Adolescent girls, in particular, must be protected, as they are one of the groups most at risk of gender-based violence within the camps. – Yours, etc,

PAUL O’BRIEN,

Chief Executive,

Plan International Ireland,

Harrington Street,

Dublin 8.