The British minister for development has urged the international community to continue to push Myanmar to ensure conditions for Rohingya return.
“Rohingya's right to return to their homeland must remain high on international agenda,” International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said on Tuesday while interacting with a group of journalists in Dhaka.
“We want this to be resolved. And how is to be determined. UK has been absolutely at the forefront in basic diplomatic effort,” she said as she concluded her three-day visit to Bangladesh, second after the latest Rohingya crisis began in Aug 2017.
She visited Cox’s Bazar and said the plight of the Rohingya refugees “must not be forgotten”.
“We must always push and we will continue working to make sure there are conditions for people to go back to their home. We must make sure Rohingya's right to return remain high on the international agenda,” she said.
The UK is providing vital humanitarian aid to many of the one million Rohingya refugees and vulnerable local communities in Cox’s Bazar.
Mordaunt, the first UK cabinet minister to visit Bangladesh since the Dec 30 elections, met Rohingya refugees living in Kutupalong camp at a food distribution centre. She spoke with women being protected from violence, and saw how children with disabilities were getting the therapy and treatment they need, all supported by UK aid.
Since Aug 25 in 2017, aid from British taxpayers has provided £129 million in funding to the refugee crisis and Mordaunt’s visit focused on exploring longer term solutions by supporting education, developing skills and improving access to training opportunities.
She met State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam in Dhaka and said she would push for the changes needed in Burma to help the Rohingya repatriation..
But Mordaunt said now was the time to look beyond short-term live-saving assistance support, to give them the skills they need to create sustainable lives both for themselves and their families.
“This major man-made humanitarian crisis has been ethnic cleansing on an industrial scale and I urge the government of Burma to create the necessary conditions that would allow those Rohingya currently living in Bangladesh to return,” she said.
“The government and people of Bangladesh have shown great generosity and humanity in hosting the Rohingya. But we recognise that Bangladesh can’t shoulder this responsibility alone.
"The plight of the Rohingya refugees to return home must not fall off the international agenda and they must be given justice," the British minister continued
In Dhaka, Mordaunt also visited the icddr,b, a medical research centre which also houses a hospital specialising in cholera and other water-borne diseases.
UK aid supports the hospital's research and the development of simple life-saving innovations such as breathing apparatus for small babies that was created using an empty shampoo bottle.
Experts at the hospital have also advised humanitarian workers in Yemen on how to treat deadly outbreaks of cholera.