Burma Campaign UK welcomes the discussion on Burma and the Rohingya due to take place at the United Nations Security Council today.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, High Commissioner for Human Rights, will brief the UN Security Council following recent international attention on thousands of Rohingya stranded at sea after fleeing Burma.
Burma has been on the agenda of the UN Security Council for almost ten years. In 2007 Russia and China vetoed a resolution calling on the government of Burma to hold dialogue with opposition parties. Since then Burma has been discussed at the UN Security Council on many occasions, but no concrete action has ever been taken.
Burma Campaign UK is calling on the UN Security Council to take action to address the root causes of the current crisis, which is the deliberate policy of the Burmese government to drive the Rohingya out of Burma. President Thein Sein has stepped up repression of the Rohingya since becoming President in 2011. It is possible that as many as 20 percent of the Rohingya population have fled Burma by land and sea since he took power.
One of the tools that Burma is using to drive the Rohingya out of Burma is poverty. At least 140,000 Rohingya people who were forced to flee their homes after horrific violence in June and October 2012 now live in temporary camps where humanitarian access is severely restricted as a result of the policies of the Burmese government and the failure of the government to ensure a secure environment for the delivery of aid. UN officials have described appalling conditions in the camps, but three years on there is still not significant improvement.
The UN Security Council should ask UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to personally take the lead in negotiating unrestricted humanitarian access in Rakhine State.
The other tool that the government of Burma uses to drive the Rohingya out of Burma is human rights violations and repression. The government of Burma has ignored multiple requests by the various United Nations bodies to change its policies towards the Rohingya. It has also failed to investigate those responsible for the violent attacks against the Rohingya in 2012.
The UN Security Council must also address this issue. In 2013 the UN Secretary-General launched the Human Rights up Front (HRuF) initiative. Its purpose is to ensure the UN system takes early and effective action, as mandated by the Charter and UN resolutions, to prevent or respond to large-scale violations of human rights or international humanitarian law. In Burma this initiative is clearly not being applied. The UN Security Council should express support for the application of Human Rights up Front being applied in Burma.
All UN Security Council members should be able to reach a consensus on the need for unrestricted humanitarian access in Rakhine State, and request UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to take the lead in negotiating such access.
“Whilst the fact that the UN Security Council is discussing the Rohingya crisis is very welcome, we need more than just talk,” said Anna Roberts, Executive Director of Burma Campaign UK. “At the minimum the Security Council should give UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon a mandate to negotiate unrestricted humanitarian access in Rakhine State.”