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Press release

22 August 2019

61 NGOs warn of worsening crisis in Myanmar and call for refugees’ engagement on safe, voluntary returns

Two years after being forced from their homes by mass atrocities in Myanmar, nearly one million Rohingya are still waiting for justice and a say about their future. They continue to struggle for safety and dignity in Bangladesh as refugees.

Christian Aid has joined 60 other local, national and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the two countries, to call for the rights of Rohingya and other internally displaced communities in Rakhine State to be fully recognised and respected, and for Rohingya refugees to be able to make informed decisions about their own lives, including their return to Myanmar.

The NGOs voice strong concerns about the safety of affected families in Rakhine State, including Rohingya communities, as the conflict there escalates and humanitarian access remains limited. They urge the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to ensure that any return process be safe, voluntary and dignified, as news of the possible expedited repatriation of 3,450 Rohingya refugees circulated this week.

For the past two years, Christian Aid and other NGOs have assisted the Government of Bangladesh and UN agencies to provide life-sustaining support to Rohingya living in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. These collective efforts have stabilised camp conditions, strengthened monsoon preparedness and helped prevent disease outbreaks. But much more needs to be done on both sides of the Myanmar/Bangladesh border.

“Christian Aid is working with local partners to build the resilience of displaced communities in Rakhine State and elsewhere in Myanmar, and across the border in Bangladesh, to support Rohingya refugees and host communities,” said Deborah Hyams, Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy Advisor.

“We call on the international community to act now. Most urgently, the UK and other governments need to address the funding shortfall - the 2019 Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya crisis is only 35% funded to date - and to help ensure that no refugees are repatriated to Myanmar against their will.

“Beyond that, the UK and other governments must stand up for the rights of Rohingya communities and all those internally displaced in Rakhine State. To ensure safe and dignified return for Rohingya refugees, it will be essential that their rights are fully respected, including the freedom of movement and access to livelihoods and citizenship.”

The statement can be found on the right-hand side of this page.