Action needed for Rohingya refugees

Jean Lambert looks for a sustainable solution to the crisis in Bangladesh

Rohingya refugees in a camp in Bangladesh

Rohingya refugees in a camp in Bangladesh

Jean Lambert MEP

At the start of this year, I visited Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh - a region that has faced an influx of over 688,000 Rohingya refugees since August 2017.

It was in my capacity as Chair of the European Parliament's South Asia delegation that I went to the Rohingya refugee camps to gatherĀ first-hand information on the ongoing humanitarian crisis, and to speak to Rohingya people about their experiences, living conditions and concerns for the future.

The Rohingya have been suffering ongoing violence for many years and, although I have been to Cox's Bazar in the past, this current wave of violence and deliberate destruction is nothing short of a humanitarian tragedy, and one of the most alarming refugee situations I have witnessed in my years as an MEP.

In exacting circumstances, the Bangladeshi authorities have shown huge commitment to providing assistance. However, I am worried that there is unlikely to be a swift resolution to this complex crisis. With the monsoon season soon to begin, many of the Rohingyas' makeshift shelters are at risk from landslides and flooding due to the loss of so many trees for rewood from the soft soil of the hillsides, fomenting a precarious situation for around 125,000 people.

However, if we hope to forge a truly sustainable solution to this crisis, Myanmar must respect the dignity of the Rohingya people. As such, I have called on Myanmar to put in place citizenship rights for the Rohingyas, which were revoked in 1982. It must immediately grant access to Rakhine State for humanitarian organisations and the international community. Any return to Myanmar must engage UNHCR and be voluntary, safe and secure for the Rohingya people.

I promise that MEPs will do what we can to make sure this issue does not fade from international attention, and that more money is provided. We are currently pushing the Commission to move quickly on targeted sanctions against the Myanmar Government and generals. We must not turn our backs on the people of Bangladesh and the thousands of Rohingyas who urgently need our support.