Side Event on the Rohingya Crisis at the 2022 UN General Assembly: Statement by Minister Ford
Your Excellency Prime Minister Hasina; distinguished guests.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be with you today to remember the tragic events of 5 years ago. And for the chance to push for a lasting solution and mobilize adequate resources to support the Rohingya until they can return to Myanmar.
Prime Minister Hasina, your government and the people of Bangladesh have our utmost respect. You have generously welcomed one million Rohingya refugees for 5 years. And I pay tribute to your leadership and your humanitarian values.
Friends and colleagues. No one should be forced to flee their home or country of birth. It is a tragedy that so many people were unable to return to their communities, that so many lives were blocked and that there was no accountability for the atrocities endured.
Faced with so much pain and hardship, the courage, resilience and spirit that the Rohingya continue to show is all the more admirable.
I wanted to reiterate our deep concerns about the escalation of violence in Myanmar. In Rakhine State, Rohingya communities have been caught in the crossfire of recent fighting between the Myanmar Armed Forces and the Rakhine Army.
I am saddened to learn of the horrific attack on a school in Sagaing. We condemn the killings. Nothing can justify the killing of children and innocent civilians.
Since 2017, the UK has provided £340million in support to Rohingya and neighboring communities in Bangladesh. And £25m for Rohingya and other Muslim communities in Rakhine State. This provided vital food, water, shelter, healthcare and protection.
We continue to be a major core funding contributor to humanitarian agencies, providing £108m this year, bolstering their ability to respond to the crisis. Our total support portfolio makes us one of the world’s largest humanitarian donors.
International financial institutions have an important role to play in sustaining the Rohingya response, and we welcome their continued dialogue with your government.
We will continue to support the Rohingyas and, above all, the local communities around the camps.
It is vital to prepare the Rohingya to return to Myanmar, when it is safe and sustainable.
We are therefore delighted that the Government of Bangladesh has approved the rollout of the Myanmar Curriculum and a new Competency Framework. This will have a positive impact and should be followed by an expansion of livelihood opportunities in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char, to better equip refugees for their sustainable return to Myanmar.
Prime Minister, we agree with you that the international community must play its part in creating the conditions for a safe, voluntary and dignified return.
We will continue to work alongside the international community to improve conditions for Rohingya in Myanmar and mitigate the risk of further atrocities. This includes the use of targeted sanctions and the creation of a global coalition of countries determined to combat the flow of arms into Myanmar.
This year we marked 5 years since the ethnic cleansing carried out by the army against the Rohingya people. We have used the significance of this tragic anniversary to hold accountable those responsible for the atrocities committed in Rakhine State.
We haven’t forgotten what they did, and last month the UK announced a new round of sanctions targeting companies closely linked to the Myanmar military, which funded mine clearance operations in 2017.
Accountability for these atrocities is key to ending the cycle of violence, which is why we intend to intervene in the case before the International Court of Justice brought by The Gambia, of which we have been a long-time supporter. date.
To achieve real justice for the Rohingya, their citizenship in Myanmar must be restored. The systematic human rights violations they have suffered for decades must end. And the Rohingya must be meaningfully included in future visions of Burmese society.
We will use all available opportunities, including at the G7 and with our ASEAN partners, to push for a long-term solution to the crisis and its root causes. We will also use our drafting role to keep the situation in Myanmar on the agenda of the UN Security Council and explore all available tools of the Council.
We will continue to do all we can to ensure that the Rohingya can return home voluntarily, safely and sustainably, when conditions allow. And help the people of Myanmar enjoy the peace, justice and prosperity they deserve.