As EU foreign ministers gather in Brussels for the Foreign Affairs Council, Save the Children is calling on leaders to take decisive and bold steps to help end the Rohingya crisis, fast becoming the defining human rights emergency of our time.
To this end Save the Children is proposing the EU immediately adopt the following six-point plan to prevent any further suffering of Rohingya children and their families:
- Insist on immediate, full and unfettered humanitarian access to all people in need in Rakhine State.
- To only support the return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar IF minimum conditions and guarantees have been met to ensure the physical, material and legal safety of returnees, and request the substantive involvement of UNHCR in the supervision of any return process.
- Support the development of a clear and detailed plan to assist internally displaced Rohingya confined in detention-like camps in central Rakhine since 2012 to return to their place of origin or relocate and facilitate their access to services and livelihoods.
- Immediately impose travel bans and financial sanctions on military commanders and senior officers responsible for ordering criminal acts and consider a ban on investment and business dealings with military-owned companies.
- Suspend military assistance programmes and support the establishment of a UN-mandated global arms embargo.
- Support access to Myanmar for the UN Fact-Finding Mission and explore all avenues for justice and accountability, including through international courts.
Save the Children teams hear stories every day from child survivors and their families who’ve experienced or witnessed the most horrific violations. The charity has documented first-hand testimonies of the atrocities suffered by the Rohingya community, which may amount to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. These include systematic rape, sexual violence, public humiliation, collective punishment, murder, forced displacement and destruction of private property.
Save the Children is calling on EU leaders to take a strong stance on the situation in northern Rakhine State and do all within their powers to prevent further violence against Rohingya children and ensure accountability. The charity is particularly concerned for the more than 378,000 Rohingya children who’ve been forced from their homes since August, many of whom have witnessed unspeakable crimes.
Ester Asin, Save the Children’s EU Office Director in Brussels, said:
“The Rohingya refugee crisis is the fastest population displacement since the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and it’s happening on our watch. Ministers gathered in Brussels have many tools at their disposal to help bring about positive change, from diplomacy to sanctions.”
“Many Rohingya now face the prospect of being forced back under questionable circumstances and without any guarantees of safety or accountability. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have lost everything without having committed any crime. EU leaders have a unique opportunity to rise to the challenge that lies before them and stand up for the persecuted Rohingya.”
“One of the fundamental principles of the EU is respect for human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law. We’re asking EU leaders to stay true to their commitments and act now. There’s no time to lose. We cannot afford another Rwanda.”