European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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Commissioner Stylianides calls for humanitarian access to Rakhine State

Rohingya refugees in Myanmar by Pierre Prakash
Most Rohingya refugees walk 60 kilometres for up to 6 days and are in need of food, water and shelter. ©EU/ECHO/Pierre Prakash

"Unrestricted humanitarian access, including for aid workers, is critical to reaching 350 000 vulnerable people in Rakhine State. They must be allowed to do their job to try to prevent the further deterioration of an already serious humanitarian situation.

I call on all sides to de-escalate tensions and fully observe international human rights law, and in particular to refrain from any violence against civilians.

Many Rohingya civilians are suffering greatly and are now fleeing the violence across the border into Bangladesh. They must not be turned back or deported. We greatly appreciate the hospitality extended by the Government and people of Bangladesh for many decades. The assistance and protection of the Bangladeshi authorities regarding these new refugees is crucial until the situation in Rakhine State has stabilised and they can safely return.

The European Union is committed to supporting all efforts to bring a return to aid deliveries in Rakhine State and is working tirelessly with all stakeholders to achieve this."

Background

On the 25th August, a series of attacks on police posts occurred in Northern Rakhine state (Myanmar) which led to spiralling of conflict, thereby cutting off humanitarian access. As the military operations continued, the humanitarian access has been cut off and over 123 600 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh where humanitarian and government agencies are providing emergency support. Some 3 000 – 5 000 people are still stranded in the area between the two countries. Worrying testimonies are gradually emerging of excessive use of military force against civilian populations.

The Rohingya crisis is a human rights crisis with serious humanitarian consequences. In Myanmar/Burma, the Rohingya have very limited access to basic services and viable livelihood opportunities due to strict movement restrictions. The 1982 Citizenship Law stripped Rohingya of their citizenship and the right to self-identify.

The Rohingya are also subject to many restrictions in day to day life: they are banned from travelling without authorisation, and, due to movement restrictions, they lack sufficient access to livelihood opportunities, medical care and education. In 2012 widespread violence in Rakhine left some 140 000 people, mostly Rohingya, displaced. Assault on three border guard posts in northern Rakhine State on 9 October 2016 triggered a series of violent incidents and military operations resulting in the suspension of humanitarian activities and the flight of over 87 000 Rohingya into Bangladesh in search of protection.

Publication date
05/09/2017