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UK MPs caution against Rohingya return sans consultation

  • Published at 10:38 pm January 16th, 2018
UK MPs caution against Rohingya return sans consultation

The potential return of 100,000 Rohingya to Myanmar without a clear understanding of their legal status, interim and/or final destination, or even whether they have volunteered for the return trip, is a matter of grave concern, says the International Development Committee of UK parliament.

In a report published on Monday, the Committee says plans to begin repatriation for the displaced Rohingya people from Bangladesh to Myanmar are well underway without evidence of consultation or involvement with the community.

The International Development Committee is a select committee of the House of Commons in the parliament of the United Kingdom.

The UNHCR reported in December 2017 that a Joint Working Group had been tasked to “develop a specific instrument on the physical arrangement for the repatriation of returnees in a speedy manner.”

However, MPs on the Committee agreed that the required conditions for the safe return of the Rohingya to Myanmar must include their safety, security, and access to fundamental human rights. Previous episodes of displacement and return of the Rohingya, and other ethnic minorities, in Burma over the last 20 years “do not inspire confidence,” says the report.

While recognizing the challenges and ambitions behind each strand of the Government's “five-point plan” for the Rohingya and Myanmar, the report welcomes the concept.

However, the Committee says that returning the Rohingya to live in Myanmar-run internment camps with the threat of future deprivation and violence is unacceptable.

Members were also critical of the UK's reluctance to commit its full specialist team on sexual violence to assist with reported cases of gender-based violence.

In the face of substantial evidence of horrific, gender-based, atrocity crimes such as rape, sexual violence, torture and mutilations, it is essential that official, contemporary evidence-gathering of crimes must be gathered by forensic professionals as a matter of course.

Predecessor Committees for International Development have reported that the use of rape and gender-based violence against civilian women and girls is military policy in Myanmar - this has not changed.

Given that an internal inquiry carried out by Myanmar has already cleared its forces of wrongdoing in a way that the UK Government has described as "simply not credible," the Committee urges the Government to find other solutions.

Myanmar committed to support the Secretary-General's Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) initiative and corresponding roadmap, working to end all preventable deaths of women and adolescent girls in crisis settings, agreed at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016.