UN Secretary General makes personal visit to see the plight of Rohingya refiugees

UK MEP Amjad Bashir has praised the UN Secretary General for making a personal visit to see the plight of Rohingya refiugees and hear their stories. 

But he said Antonio Guterres must make the visit a turning point in the international response to the Rohingya crisis. 

Bashir, Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber, said: "World leaders have been full of sympathetic words about the persecution of Myanmar's Rohingya minority - but action to fix the problem has been in short supply." 

After visiting Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh on Monday, Guterres said: 'Nothing could have prepared me for the scale of the crisis and extent of suffering.” 

One million Rohingya are in Banlgadesh after fleeing genocide and ethnic cleansing in neighbouring Myanmar. They live under constant threat of flash floods and landslides. Mr Guterres said the violence they had faced at home in Myanmar since last August was probably one of the most “tragic stories” of “systematic violation” of human rights ever recorded. He called on the international community to translate its solidarity into sufficient support for Rohingya still living in Myanmar and those displaced across the border in Bangladesh.

 “My appeal to the international community is to step up to the plate and to substantially increase the financial support to all those working in Bangladesh to protect and assist the Rohingya refugees,” urged  Guterres. 

 Bashir, who has himself visited the refugee camps three times, said: "As someone who had been deeply frustrated by the lack of concerted international effort to tackle this abuse at its source, I find the Secretary General's words encouraging. He has clearly been deeply moved by the condition of the refugees and the tragic and harrowing stories behind their flight. He is still the servant of his political masters, though - so now we must appeal to national leaders to hear his pleas and take the action required. 

"We need comprehensive humanitarian aid in Bangladesh and effective guarantees of safety and security for Rohingyas in Myanmar - if necessary involving a white-helmeted military presence from the UN. "Then we need an independent assessment of the actions of the Myanmar authorities and a thorough investigation of alleged crimes against humanity there. "Please let Mr Guterres's observations be the last word on this issue. We need real action." 

Meanwhile, commenting on the new EU-Japan trade agreement, European Green party co-chairs Reinhard Bütikofer and Monica Frassoni said:   “As negotiators conclude their work, public discussion of the merits and shortcomings of the proposed trade agreement is only beginning. “We strongly criticise that the Commission did not provide the level of transparency that the public fought for so energetically in the discussions around TTIP and CETA. 

“There are strong reasons to develop reliable, multilateral and fair trade relations.  This is even more so the case as we experience unfair trade policies from so many corners. In particular from the US, but also from China and others. “We consider it a victory for citizens critical of old trade policies that used to favour the interests of big corporations over everything else, that proposals for a privileged protection of foreign investors have not been included in this trade agreement.

"We also note positively that the trade agreement explicitly puts EU-Japanese trade into the context of the Paris climate goals. “It would have been even better if the whole agreement would have been explicitly subjected to the ambition of helping to implement global sustainable development goals.  

“We are alarmed by arguments from citizens but also from industry that the draft trade agreement does not offer the stringent protections against water privatisation that would be needed and that it even falls short of CETA in that regard. 

" We insist that there be an open and inclusive public debate over all issues concerned.  We’ve seen in the past that amendments were necessary and we will insist that such amendments would be taken up also in this case whenever justified concerns cannot be resolved by a better explanation of the text we presently have.” 



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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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