One year after the start of the crisis, the situation of the Rohingya people from a humanitarian and human rights standpoint remains very worrying.
Since the beginning of the crisis in September 2017, the President of the French Republic denounced “ethnic cleansing” during the high-level week at the United Nations General Assembly.
Continuing from the President’s mobilization, France has taken the initiative within the United Nations Security Council, in collaboration with its partners, including the United Kingdom, to provide an initial collective response from the international community to the drama that the Rohingya people are living through.
The Security Council established a roadmap to resolve the crisis by presidential statement on 6 November 2017. The Council meets regularly to monitor the situation and the implementation of its action plan. The appointment of a Special Envoy for Burma, Christine Schraner Burgener of Switzerland, by the United Nations Secretary-General, should help to enhance cooperation between the Burma government and the United Nations in order to make progress towards resolving the crisis and supporting Burma’s democratic transition.
Following the Security Council’s visit to Burma and Bangladesh from 28 April to 1 May 2018, the conclusion on 6 June 2018 of a tripartite agreement between the Burma government, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) was an important step in preparing the conditions necessary for a safe, voluntary, dignified and long-term return of the Rohingya refugees.
The Security Council and the Human Rights Council have expressed their deep-held concern on several occasions about the allegations of serious human rights violations in Rakhine State, including by security forces. The victims’ testimonies are damning. The report of the Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission, published on 27 August 2018, does not hold back from using terms such as genocide, crime against humanity and war crime against the Burma army, which are the competence of the International Criminal Court. France calls for independent and transparent enquiries to be carried out and for determined action to be taken by the international community to collect and conserve the evidence and bring those responsible to justice.
France, together with its European partners, reinforced the arms embargo on Burma and on 25 June 2018 imposed sanctions (asset freezing in European banks and European travel ban) on seven senior officers from the armed forces and border police, responsible for serious human rights violations to the Rohingya population (for more information visit the website of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, in French).
Since the beginning of the crisis, France has suspended defence cooperation with the Burma army.
The aim remains for the refugees to return to their homes, but significant effort in terms of reconciliation, restoration of the rule of law and reconstruction are still required to enable the safe, dignified, voluntary and long-term return of the refugees.
In this context, France continues to provide support for the democratic transition in Burma and for the work of the civil government to make progress in the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Since 25 August 2017, over 723,000 Rohingyas have sought refuge in Bangladesh, in addition to the previous waves. In total, the Cox’s Bazar camps in Bangladesh are now home to nearly a million Rohingya refugees. France welcomes the solidarity and the efforts made by the Bangladeshi authorities to welcome the refugees in their territory.
France is providing substantial humanitarian assistance, including through the European Union
France is participating in the international efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs in Burma and Bangladesh. Our assistance for the Rohingya populations in Bangladesh and Burma totalled €4.2 million in 2017.
France continues to support the work of the United Nations and humanitarian organizations on the ground. Food assistance of €1.3 million was determined for the first half of 2018 (€1.05 million in Bangladesh and €0.25 million in Burma). Support of €1.5 million for several NGO projects has also been provided by the Humanitarian Action Department. Lastly, a voluntary contribution of $550,000 was made to the UNHCR. French assistance for the Rohingya refugees has therefore reached €7.5 million since the beginning of the crisis.
France also participates in the humanitarian efforts through its contributions to the European Union budget. In 2018, the European Commission unfroze €40 million in humanitarian assistance to support the Rohingyas in Bangladesh and in Rakhine State in Burma. Some €29 million of these €40 million will go to organizing food and nutrition assistance, access to drinking water and health services in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh. Some €7 million will be used to bolster the rainy season preparations and €4 million will be attributed to the Rohingya and their host communities in Rakhine State and will be used to organize protection, housing and healthcare. These funds are in addition to the €51 million already mobilized in 2017. In total, since 2010, the European Union has contributed nearly €81 million in humanitarian assistance for vulnerable populations in Rakhine State, including in the more isolated regions in the north.
Updated: 5 September 2018