The international community has delivered a clear message to Myanmar that it must stop the violence, British Prime Minister Theresa May has said during a Q&A session in Parliament.
She was replying to Will Quince, the Conservative MP for Colchester, on Wednesday. Quince, who recently visited Bangladesh, asked May what pressure the UK could put on Myanmar to end the persecution, so that the Rohingya can go back home.
Prime Minister May said the UK remained “deeply concerned” by what was happening to the Rohingya.
“We now know that there are over 500,000 refugees in Bangladesh,” she said. “It's a major humanitarian crisis.”
Also Read- UN: Army in systematic bid to drive Rohingya from Myanmar
Myanmar said it launched a “security operation” after insurgents attacked police posts and an army base on August 25. However, a UN investigation found that the military operations had begun earlier, possibly in early August.
The crackdown targeting the Rohingya forced more than half a million members of the mainly-Muslim minority to flee to Bangladesh since August 25.
May said: “We have raised this [Rohingya issue] three times at the UN Security Council. There's been a clear message delivered from the international community that the Burmese (Myanmar) authorities must stop the violence, allow safe return of refugees and allow full humanitarian access.”
The Rohingya are the largest stateless community and often described as the most persecuted minority in the world. Naypyitaw denies them citizenship and claims they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
But the latest chapter in violence is unprecedented, which the UN described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and said the military campaign aimed at permanently driving away the Rohingya from Rakhine state.
British Prime Minister May said her country had suspended “any practical defence engagement that we had with Burma because of our concerns”.
In the last UN General Assembly, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina proposed creating a “safe zone” in Myanmar for the Rohingya under UN supervision.
Also Read- Bangladesh PM: If necessary, we will eat one meal a day to feed the Rohingya
Will Quince told parliament that what he had seen during his visit to the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh “was truly harrowing”. “It can only be described as a humanitarian disaster,” he said.
Bangladesh already had been hosting an estimated 400,000 Rohingya before the latest influx. Hundreds of thousands of forcibly displaced persons are believed to be waiting along the Myanmar border, waiting for a chance to sneak into Bangladesh.
May said the UK had been providing support through its international development and aid. “We provided money to the Red Cross in Burma and have been providing bilateral donations to deal with the refugees, to support the refugees who have crossed into Bangladesh,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina has said that her government would continue to provide support to the Rohingya until they returned to their homeland.
“If necessary, we will eat one meal a day and share another meal with these distressed people,” she said. “After all, we are human beings and we stand for mankind.”
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