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Canada’s Strategy to Respond to the Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh
The grave crisis in Myanmar is a global tragedy that demands an urgent and concerted international response. The perpetration of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing has led more than 717,000 Rohingya to flee their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and seek refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh. The situation continues to get worse – with more Rohingya crossing the border into Bangladesh every day.
The massive influx of Rohingya refugees has added to the hundreds of thousands of refugees already in the region. Local communities are under intense strain in one of the poorest and most disaster-prone areas of Bangladesh. The humanitarian situation is precarious, especially as the camps and settlements are vulnerable to flooding and landslides during the monsoon season. Congested living conditions continue to increase the risk of outbreaks of disease. Providing life saving assistance remains a priority.
The situation in Myanmar is also dire. More than 450,000 Rohingya living in camps and villages in central and northern Rakhine State, already one of Myanmar’s poorest states, face restrictions on their human rights and limitations on their freedom of movement. The recent violence has heightened inter communal tensions and distrust among ethnic Rakhine, the Rohingya, and other ethnic communities. Significantly diminished access to food, services, and the ability to generate income is adding to the vulnerability of these marginalized populations. Security in Myanmar is another ongoing concern for Rohingya and other ethnic minorities. Access to the region remains severely restricted and allegations of serious human rights abuses – including sexual and gender-based violence – are of deep concern.
Canada’s position is clear: no population, group, or community should ever face persecution or discrimination based on their identity. Canada will not stand idly by as people are denied their most basic human rights simply because of who they are. We have a moral obligation to act. Failing to address the crisis would also have negative long-term consequences – creating an enduring humanitarian crisis with the potential to become a persistent source of political instability in the region.