The House of Commons’ committee on International Development has said in its report that the persecution of the Rohingyas by Myanmar should be taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC), reports P.K.Balachandran in South Asian Monitor.
The report recommended that the UK and its allies “gather support for the UN Security Council to refer Burma (Myanmar) to the International Criminal Court and to apply targeted financial sanctions to all identifiable key figures.”
It said that the re-settlement process initiated by the Myanmar government is “just window dressing for the Burmese (Myanmarese) army” and called for an “independent review” of the peace process supposedly started by the military-backed Suu Kyi regime.
The UK it added, needs to recognize that “State CounsellorAung San Suu Kyi is now becoming part of the problem”.
The House Committee regretted that the only punitive step taken by the UK so far is the stoppage of military training provided to the Myanmar Security Forces called ‘Tatmadaw’.
“British tax payers must be assured that none of their money is being used to prop up a government accused of crimes against humanity,” the panel said.
“The Department of International Development (DFID) must clearly outline all of the UK’s on-going financial commitments in Burma, including those through multinational organizations, identifying in each case, the justification for continued engagement and the due diligence undertaken to reach that position, including results that have been achieved.”
“If little or no tangible result has been achieved (in human rights), we recommend suspending these (aid) programs,” the committee said.
UK Government’ s Response
In its response to the House Committee’s report, submitted on May 14, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) said that the UK stands ready to support a “robust international humanitarian response” to the enormous crisis created by the influx of Rohingyas into Bangladesh.
“We continueto work with the government of Bangladesh to ensure that refugees receive the humanitarian assistant they require,” the DFID said.
Listing the urgent requirements, the DFID said that a “comprehensive preparedness” for the monsoon and cyclone season in the Rohingya refugee camps is an “important” part.
“We are in close contact with the government of Bangladesh, other donors and humanitarian agencies, to ensure a concerted approach.”
“The UK government has carried out its own comprehensive cross-departmental planning to ensure its readiness to respond. We stand ready to support, if required, a robust international humanitarian response,”the DFID said.
It reiterated its commitment to the five-point plan for addressing the current crisis.
Details of UK Assistance
Giving details the DFID pointed out that more than 687,000 Rohingya had fled to Bangladesh from Rakhine State in Myanmar since April 2017. And these joined around 300,000 who had fled during previous waves of violence there.
About 270,000 Rohingya live in areas in Bangladesh at risk of flooding in the monsoon. Of these 24,000 are extremely vulnerable and need relocation.
On March 20, the DFID wrote to Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urging her to “fully harness” her country’s expertise in disaster management and reaffirmed the DFID’s support.
UK Biggest Donor
The government said that the UK remains one of the “biggest” donors to Bangladesh to help it face the Rohingya influx, giving UK Pounds 129 million since August 2017.
This includes UK Pounds 70 million announced on May 7, for the international humanitarian Joint Response Plan (JRP) which targets 1.3 million people including 336,000 host community members.
“UK aid is making a big difference on the ground providing emergency food for upto 367,000 people, and safe water and hygiene for up to 250,000 people,” the DFID said.
UK Aid has built 7000 latrines and helped mitigate cholera,measles and diphtheria through a vaccination campaign covering 391,000 children under seven. The DFID is supporting building of rain proof shelters for 450,000 people.
On the international campaign front the UK had initiated a UN Security Council Presidential statement on November 6, 2017 and encouraged and co-led a UN Security Council visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh in April.
The UK co-sponsored a UN Human Rights Council resolution in March as a well as a Human Rights Council and General Assembly resolution in December 2017.
The Committee also emphasized the need to fund ethnic communities caught up in the conflict like the Kachins and Shans which are trapped in refugee camps on the Thai border.
The House Committee praised Bangladesh for unflinchingly accommodating and providing for the Rohingya refugees and lauded the DFID’s work in Bangladesh, a country it described as a “longstanding ally, critical friend and partner.”
(The featured image at the top shows Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar trying to grab food packets)