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Canada's Trudeau tasks special envoy to press Myanmar on refugees

  • Published at 06:32 pm October 24th, 2017
Canada's Trudeau tasks special envoy to press Myanmar on refugees

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed a special envoy to Myanmar tasked with pressing its leadership to resolve the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Trudeau also announced in a statement that Canada would be doubling its contribution this year of humanitarian aid for the refugees to US$20 million.

Former senior MP Bob Rae will "reinforce the urgent need to resolve the humanitarian and security crisis in Myanmar and to address the situation affecting vulnerable populations, including the Rohingya community," read the statement, released as an international donor conference opened in Geneva.

Rae, who preceded Trudeau as leader of Canada's Liberal Party, will also advise him on how best to support "those affected and displaced by the recent violence."

Trudeau said he is "deeply concerned about the urgent humanitarian and security crisis in Myanmar's Rakhine State, particularly the brutal persecution of the Rohingya people."

At a press conference, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called for the immediate end to "widespread attacks against the Rohingya."

"These are crimes against humanity and the responsibility for ending the ethnic cleansing falls squarely on Myanmar's military leadership and its civilian government," she said.

Canada, she added, is looking at possibly resettling some of the refugees.

More than 600,000 people from the ethnic minority group have fled violence in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state since August.

Rohingyas have been systematically deprived of basic rights over decades in majority Buddhist Myanmar.

In the latest crackdown, Myanmar's security forces have fired indiscriminately on unarmed civilians, including children, and committed widespread sexual violence, according to UN investigators.

Trudeau called Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi last month to urge her to end the violence.

Suu Kyi, an honorary citizen of Canada and Nobel laureate, has been criticised for her ambiguous position on the Rohingya crisis.

Rae will travel to the region next week and make his findings public at the end of January.

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