On 5th September 2017, the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, tabled an urgent question, to ask Her Majesty’s Government “what it is doing to respond to the crisis facing the Rohingya people in Myanmar.” Below is the Minister’s response and a subsequent question asked by the Bishop.
Baroness Goldie (Con): My Lords, Her Majesty’s Government are deeply concerned by the situation in Rakhine and the plight of the Rohingya. We immediately raised the situation in the United Nations Security Council on 30 August, where we urged a restrained security response and that all sides de-escalate tensions. Our priority now is ensuring that urgent food and medical assistance can be provided to displaced civilians. Our heads of mission in Rangoon and Dhaka have been discussing the situation in Rakhine with their respective host Governments, including enabling humanitarian aid to reach where the need is greatest.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for her Answer. The United Nations is reporting that 35,000 people have crossed from Myanmar into Bangladesh in the past 24 hours alone. The two UN camps for refugees are now full. What action do Her Majesty’s Government plan to take in response to this humanitarian crisis? In particular, what representations are being made to the Myanmar Government concerning the blocking of vital humanitarian aid to certain parts of Rakhine district?
Baroness Goldie (Con): I thank the right reverend Prelate for a very important Question. As he will be aware, the UK has long been one of the biggest bilateral development and humanitarian donors to Burma and to Rakhine state. We have provided very significant sums of money in humanitarian assistance, including food and sanitation. We are very concerned by the recent developments. We are monitoring the situation closely through our embassy in Rangoon. We raised the current situation in Rakhine in the United Nations Security Council on 30 August. Our ambassador has lobbied the Burmese Government, and our high commissioner in Dhaka has discussed the situation with the Government of Bangladesh. We also urge the Burmese Government to do everything they can to facilitate the transportation of aid to the communities that most need it.