Alert: Rohingya – Urge UK government to reconsider aid cut to the Rohingya refugees

A Rohingya woman is carried by family members in the Balukhali refugee camp. Picture: Greg Constantine

Urge UK government to reconsider aid cut to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Summary

Background

Action required

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Recipient contact information

Summary

The British government has abandoned Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh by cutting the aid to the humanitarian response by more than 40%. In May, The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) pledged £27.6m to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, compared with £47.5m last year. The significant aid cut came in the backdrop of the catastrophic effects of the Covid-19, which mainly hit hard the cramped-up refugee camps in Bangladesh. Meanwhile, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have been displaced from Cox’s Bazar refugee settlement to remote and precarious Bhasan Char Island. IHRC urges campaigners to write to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to increase the humanitarian aid to Rohingya refugees.

Background

The military coup staged on the 1st of February 2021 has worsened the Rohingya refugees’ situation in Bangladesh significantly. Myanmar’s military ruled the country for fifty years until 2011 has been responsible for committing the genocide and all the atrocities against Rohingya. Further, a repatriation process supported by the United Nations has been stalled due to the military coup. Rohingyas’ fear that the Bangladeshi government will instead forcefully displace the refugees from Cox’s Bazar to the Bhasan Char Island in the Bay of Bengal has been realised.

Frustrated with the stall of the repatriation process due to the military coup in Myanmar, the Bangladeshi government has increased its effort to sending Rohingya refugees to the Bhasan Char Island. Around 4000 refugees coerced into moving to the remote island since December. The Bangladeshi officials are planning to send as many as 100.000 Rohingya to the island in total. The island 21 miles from the mainland had been uninhabited previously. The island surfaced for 20 years and was regularly submerged by monsoon rains. The Bangladeshi Navy has built flood protection barriers to prevent flooding, but humanitarian groups fear that a strong storm may overcome the barriers and perish the refugees residing on the island. Most importantly, the refugees were not given an option to choose about the move. The Bangladeshi security forces detained and forced the refugees to move to the Bhasan Char Island. Also, the camp officials have falsely promised payments and Bangladeshi citizenship to the Rohingya who relocate to the island. Rohingya refugees have been actively resisting the forced move by way of staging demonstrations.

In addition, the recent announcement of the British government to abandon Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh is to have devastating consequences. The government announced a significant reduction to the humanitarian response by more than 40%. In May, The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) pledged £27.6m to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, compared with £47.5m last year. The aid cut came in the backdrop of the catastrophic effects of the Covid-19, which mainly hit hard the cramped-up refugee camp in Bangladesh. In 2017, the British government pledged £129m to the Rohingya response after the mass displacement, but spending has reduced each year.

Action required

  1. Write to Mr Dominic Raab, British Foreign Secretary, to urge him to increase humanitarian aid to Rohingya refugees immediately.
  2. Forward any responses you receive to us on info@ihrc.org so we can develop this campaign further.
  3. Share this alert and the reports and resources, and encourage others to join this campaign.
  4. Please ensure you share verified stories and information. Despite this situation existing for decades, mainstream media has only given it importance now, often spreading unverified reports and cases. 

Model Template

[Your name]

[Your address]

[Date]

For the attention of Dominic Raab, British Foreign Secretary

Dear Mr. Dominic Raab,

I am extremely concerned with reducing the aid response to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh by more than 40%. In May, The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) pledged £27.6m to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, compared with £47.5m last year. The significant aid cut came in the backdrop of the catastrophic effects of the Covid-19, which mainly hit hard the cramped-up refugee camps in Bangladesh. In 2017, the British government pledged £129m to the Rohingya response after the mass displacement, but spending has reduced each year.

Rohingya people have faced decades of systematic discrimination, statelessness and targeted violence in Myanmar. According to the OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), as of March 2019, over 909,000 Rohingya refugees have gathered in Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, which is now home to the world’s largest refugee camp. There they remain, refusing early repatriation due to fear for their lives. They need constant support from the outside world to survive, especially in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, I urge you to increase the humanitarian aid to Rohingya refugees immediately.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature]

Your name

Recipient contact information:

Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs       

fcocorrespondence@fco.gov.uk