ROHINGYA CRISIS: Save the Children urges EU to adopt six-point plan
DECEMBER 11, BRUSSELS – As EU foreign ministers gather in Brussels for the Foreign Affairs Council, Save the Children is calling on leaders to take decisive and bold steps to help end the Rohingya crisis, fast becoming the defining human rights emergency of our time.
To this end Save the Children is proposing the EU immediately adopt the following six-point plan to prevent any further suffering of Rohingya children and their families:
1. Insist on immediate, full and unfettered humanitarian access to all people in need in Rakhine State.
2. To only support the return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar IF minimum conditions and guarantees have been met to ensure the physical, material and legal safety of returnees, and request the substantive involvement of UNHCR in the supervision of any return process.
3. Support the development of a clear and detailed plan to assist internally displaced Rohingya confined in detention-like camps in central Rakhine since 2012 to return to their place of origin or relocate and facilitate their access to services and livelihoods.
4. Immediately impose travel bans and financial sanctions on military commanders and senior officers responsible for ordering criminal acts and consider a ban on investment and business dealings with military-owned companies.
5. Suspend military assistance programmes and support the establishment of a UN-mandated global arms embargo.
6. Support access to Myanmar for the UN Fact-Finding Mission and explore all avenues for justice and accountability, including through international courts.
Save the Children teams hear stories every day from child survivors and their families who’ve experienced or witnessed the most horrific violations. The charity has documented first-hand testimonies of the atrocities suffered by the Rohingya community, which may amount to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. These include systematic rape, sexual violence, public humiliation, collective punishment, murder, forced displacement and destruction of private property.
Save the Children is calling on EU leaders to take a strong stance on the situation in northern Rakhine State and do all within their powers to prevent further violence against Rohingya children and ensure accountability. The charity is particularly concerned for the more than 378,000 Rohingya children who’ve been forced from their homes since August, many of whom have witnessed unspeakable crimes.
Shadibabiran*, female, 16 years old, told Save the Children:
“The military came to our village. They started firing at people and my mother was shot in the ankle. Then they asked all the adolescent girls to stand up and asked us where our parents were. I told them that my father died 15 years ago…They hit me in the face with a gun, kicked me in my chest and stamped on my arms and legs. Then I was raped by three soldiers. They raped me for about two hours and at some stage I fainted. They broke one of my ribs when they kicked me in the chest. It was very painful and I could hardly breathe. I still have difficulty breathing, but I haven’t been to a doctor, as I feel too ashamed.”
Wafaa*, female, 14 years old, gang-raped; recounted by Kushida*, female, 40 years old:
“When the military came to our village, two of the soldiers grabbed a teenage girl. Then they gang-raped her in front of the whole village. Those who tried to help her were beaten up by the other soldiers. Then they started firing at people, so we ran to a nearby village. Eventually the girl managed to run away and made it to the village where most of us had fled. She was in a very bad state. Her parents had been killed trying to help her. So, I washed her and I tried to treat her injuries. She was only 14 years old and she was bleeding heavily. After four days she died.”
Ester Asin, Save the Children’s EU Office Director in Brussels, said:
“The Rohingya refugee crisis is the fastest population displacement since the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and it’s happening on our watch. Ministers gathered in Brussels have many tools at their disposal to help bring about positive change, from diplomacy to sanctions.”
“Many Rohingya now face the prospect of being forced back under questionable circumstances and without any guarantees of safety or accountability. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have lost everything without having committed any crime. EU leaders have a unique opportunity to rise to the challenge that lies before them and stand up for the persecuted Rohingya.”
“One of the fundamental principles of the EU is respect for human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law. We’re asking EU leaders to stay true to their commitments and act now. There’s no time to lose. We cannot afford another Rwanda.”
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We have spokespeople available in Brussels and London for comment.
For more information or to arrange an interview kindly contact:
Jenny Dare Jenny.Dare@savethechildren.org
Bhanu Bhatnagar B.Bhatnagar@savethechildren.org.uk
Antonia Roupell A.Roupell@savethechildren.org.uk
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Notes to editors:
- On 23 November 2017 the Bangladesh and the Myanmar governments signed the arrangement on the return of displaced persons from Rakhine State. The agreement states that the return process should start as soon as possible and be completed in a time-bound manner.
- On 23 November 2017 the EU issued this statement on the agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar on the repatriation of Rohingya back to Myanmar.
- There are now approximately 835,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, some 630,000 of whom have fled since August 25.
- There are also significant numbers of internally displaced Rohingya who were forced to leave their home by much earlier waves of violence inside Myanmar but continue to be housed in camps in Rakhine State where their basic rights are limited.
- Children under five account for 30 percent of the total population.
- Pregnant and lactating women make up 14 percent of the total population.
- Save the Children is working to support pregnant women and new mothers as part of its health response by providing primary healthcare, nutrition support and referrals to field hospitals for deliveries.
- At present we are scaling up work in Cox’s Bazar, including providing psycho-social support to new mothers, and training up midwives in the community.
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