EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is visiting Bangladesh to evaluate the situation on the ground and assess EU aid initiatives that are addressing the Rohingya refugee crisis. His visit comes a week after the EU member states promised more than 50% of the 344 million US$ total funding raised at the international conference of the Rohingya Refugee Crisis held in Geneva.
Commissioner Stylianides is visiting the Kutupalong camp in the Cox’s Bazar area, where an EU funded project is helping more than 100,000 refugees, mostly children and women, to get access to basic amenities. He will also be meeting with government officials and authorities to discuss the international community’s response to the crisis and Bangladesh’s needs to deal with the influx of refugees across the border. “Here in Bangladesh the scale of this emergency is painfully clear to see; this is the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world. The EU has decisively stepped up its aid to Rohingya communities. The Rohingya people are not alone in these difficult times,” Commissioner Stylianides said.
He also added that the EU was insisting on full aid access in Myanmar and is working to address the situation in Northern Rakhine State. “Beyond aid, it is crucial that every refugee is registered properly and that Myanmar takes all necessary steps to allow them a voluntary and dignified return in secure conditions,” Mr. Stylianides said. The EU pledged €30 million in October, thus bringing the total support to the Rohingya and their host communities in Myanmar and Bangladesh to €51 million for 2017.
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, thought to number about 1 million people. Myanmar does not recognize them as citizens or one of the 135 recognized ethnic minorities and instead regards them as illegal immigrants. Human Rights Watch informed that Myanmar’s laws discriminate against the Rohingya, infringing on their education, employment and the freedom of movement. They are moreover denied property and ownership rights and the land on which they live can be taken away from them at any time.