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Burma Task Force: Rohingya Require a Future, Not Just Food

The United States announced nearly $200 million in new humanitarian funding for Rohingya refugees, with the European Union adding about $113 million, Britain pledging approximately $60 million, and other nations promising smaller amounts. Along with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Britain, the United States and EU had organized a virtual conference to close a $500 million funding gap.

Justice for All’s program Burma Task Force applauds this commitment to sustain help for Rohingya genocide survivors, despite the additional financial drain of the current pandemic. We make special recognition that the US Government has generously given at least $437 million to date, designed both to mitigate Rohingya suffering and to strengthen Bangladesh’s resilience through development projects in Cox’s Bazar. These constructive humanitarian actions reflect American ideals, values and interests and are essential for Rohingya well-being.

That said, instead of outsourcing to Bangladesh the maintenance of persecuted minorities, wealthy nations should invest in actual solutions to this human rights crisis.

“Rohingya refugees are in need of a future as well as food and basic healthcare,” stated Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chairman of Burma Task Force. “Future depends on the education of the next generation, which has been severely restricted. Monies must flow to good quality education of refugee children. In addition, it is most urgent that the root causes of this crisis be addressed.”

Host nation Bangladesh does not allow Rohingya children to study the Bangladesh curriculum but has approved a pilot project to teach the Burmese curriculum. Now that internet services have at last been restored to the camps, after many months. Bangladesh and humanitarian groups should immediately scale up the Burmese curriculum to all Rohingya refugee children.

Generosity is laudable. Since the 2017 mass displacement, the EU has provided over €226 million in humanitarian and development support to respond to the Rohingya crisis both in Myanmar and in Bangladesh. We note that today the EU has earmarked €51.5 million for new humanitarian support, (including programs for child protection, gender based-violence), critical healthcare (including mental health) and nutrition; an additional €39 million to strengthen the resilience and social cohesion of Rohingya refugees and host communities in Cox’s Bazar District and €5.5 million to contribute to stability and peace in the region. However, the EU continues to grant Burma trading preferences and thus fails to exert pressure for Rohingya rights.

What hope is there for the future? Addressing the root causes of this crisis, and noting that US Deputy Secretary of State Biegun cautioned against “unsustainable unilateral solutions that could put Rohingya and others in danger” we call for stronger sanctions to facilitate the presence of international observers and ensure the safe return of the Rohingya to a nation where their identity will be recognized, and religious, civil and human rights respected.

“Finally, the US State Department must recognize this crisis as a genocide. Without clarity of vision and purpose, we will fail to maintain momentum in helping to restore a just and peaceful life to this suffering minority population,” added Chairman Mujahid.


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