Members of the European Parliament are lobbying for intensified efforts to address the Rohingya crisis after learning about the appalling conditions in Bangladeshi refugee camps. Since late August 2017, more than 688,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Burma’s Rakhine State to escape the military’s ethnic cleansing. The Rohingya are fleeing from atrocities allegedly committed by Burmese security forces, such as mass killings, rape, and widespread arson. The Rohingya are effectively denied citizenship under Burmese law and they have faced decades of repression and discrimination.
“It’s a huge challenge for Bangladesh and also for international organizations. We must strengthen our efforts to give support, especially to the organizations involved here,” German MEP Joachim Zeller (EPP) commented. A few MEPs visited Myanmar this week and met with the local authorities. Jean Lambert, the leader of the EU Delegation for Relations with the countries of South Asia, said following his visit of the camps that this was a very difficult situation to manage. “Bangladesh has already hosted many thousands of people, who have been expelled from Myanmar, we understand that in addition to over the million people already here, there are still people arriving, there are still some stuck on the border who cannot leave,” he said.
The Chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Italy’s Pier Antonio Panzeri, commented that he was disappointed with how the Burmese de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, failed to address the crisis. Ms. San Suu Kyi is a Novel Peace Price laureate and was also awarded EU’s human rights award, Sakharov Prize in 1990. The MEPs also used their visit to Myanmar to raise important questions to the country’s authorities and to make sure that a deal signed with Bangladesh in November to return the Rohingyas was “implemented with all guarantees in terms of human rights.”