International Rescue Committee aid workers on the ground in Myanmar and Bangladesh are scaling up our response to the world's fastest-growing humanitarian crisis. Here's a look at the Rohingya refugee crisis by the numbers:
600,000+ Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled violence and persecution in Myanmar since August.
300,000 more Rohingya are expected to flee to Bangladesh in the coming weeks.
The total number of refugees in Bangladesh could soon top 1 million.
It's the fastest mass exodus IRC aid workers have seen since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
95% of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh do not have access to clean water, and more than three quarters lack food.
120,000 Rohingya remain trapped in Myanmar, cut off from essential services and dependent on aid to survive.
The United Nations emergency response plan is only one-quarter funded by donor countries, leaving a shortfall of $328 million.
What's happeningRohingya Muslim refugees arriving in Bangladesh tell of the horrors they endured as their families were attacked and their villages burned in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine. “The levels of trauma that we are seeing here are severe," said Sanna Johnson, the IRC's Asia regional director. "We have spoken to women who have seen their children slaughtered before their eyes."
With aid agencies overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis amid humanitarian funding shortfalls, people are living in increasingly dire conditions in the refugee camps in Bangladesh. An IRC assessment released on Oct 23 found that their greatest needs are health care, food, protection for women and children, shelter and sanitation.
“In a crisis of such unprecedented scale, we need the full weight of the international community to save lives in Bangladesh and Myanmar, and take concerted action in what is undoubtedly the most urgent refugee crisis in the world," said Johnson.
How the IRC helpsThe IRC and our partners are launching an emergency response in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh focused on essential health assistance, treatment of malnutrition, protection of vulnerable children, and a range of specialized services for women and girls.
In Myanmar, the IRC is gradually resuming critical health and protection programs in Rakhine State, serving both Muslim camps and Rakhine villages—but humanitarian access remains restricted for humanitarian groups and thousands remain out of reach of lifesaving aid.
Published on IRC on October 23, 2017.
The United Nations Security Council and concerned countries should impose targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on the Burmese military to end its ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims, Human Rights Watch said today. Since August 25, 2017, after attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), Burmese military forces have carried out mass arson, killing, and looting, destroying hundreds of villages and forcing nearly half a million Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.
World leaders gathering in New York for the opening of the UN General Assembly should make the crisis in Burma a priority and condemn the ongoing atrocities and obstruction of humanitarian aid to those desperately in need. The Security Council should urgently place a travel ban and asset freeze on those responsible for grave abuses and impose a comprehensive arms embargo against Burma, including prohibiting military cooperation and financial transactions with key military-owned enterprises.
“Burmese security forces are committing ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya and disregarding the condemnation of world leaders,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director. “The time has come to impose tougher measures that Burma’s generals cannot ignore.”
The Security Council should also demand that Burma allow humanitarian aid agencies to access people in need, permit entry to a UN fact-finding mission mandated to investigate violations in the country, and ensure the safe and voluntary return of those displaced.
As a first step, the Security Council should hold an open meeting to discuss council responses. The council should invite UN Secretary-General António Guterres to brief on the crisis in western Burma’s Rakhine State, which the UN high commissioner for human rights has referred to as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” The council should also discuss measures to bring those responsible for serious abuses to justice, including before the International Criminal Court.
Concerned governments should not wait for Security Council action to address the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Burma. They should impose travel bans and asset freezes on security officials implicated in serious abuses; expand existing arms embargoes to include all military sales, assistance, and cooperation; and place a ban on financial transactions with key Burmese military-owned enterprises.
The United States government should place the senior leadership of the Burmese military, notably commander-in-chief Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, on the US Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list, which cuts off access to US financial institutions, restricts travel to the US, and freezes US assets. The European Union and its member countries should expand or impose similar targeted economic and travel sanctions, and extend the existing EU arms embargo against Burma to include all forms of military assistance. Similar measures should be taken by other concerned governments, including Japan, Norway, South Korea, Canada, and Australia.
“Burma’s senior military commanders are more likely to heed the calls of the international community if they are suffering real economic consequences,” Sifton said. “It hits those responsible for ethnic cleansing where it hurts.”
Human Rights Watch analyzed a series of satellite images recorded between August 25 and September 16 that showed over 220 villages destroyed by fire in northern Rakhine State since the violence started. Rohingya villagers who have fled to Bangladesh have described Burmese security forces shooting villagers and setting fires to homes. The Burmese government alleges that ARSA fighters and Rohingya villagers are responsible for the buildings burned, but has so far failed to provide evidence of this claim.
Any ARSA commanders who are credibly implicated in serious abuses should also face sanctions.
Published on HRW on September 17, 2017.
Four months after the launch of major security operations in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State, the fate and whereabouts of hundreds of detained Rohingya are still unknown. Amnesty International considers them as victims of enforced disappearances, and are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment and of being subjected to unfair trials.
No official information has yet been released about the charges or location of the hundreds of people that Myanmar authorities claim to have arrested and “taken legal action” against since 9 October 2016. The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar said on 20 January 2017 that only one detainee that she met had received any legal representation or knew of the charges laid against them. She recounted that most of the families, of those who had been arrested or detained, had not been provided with any information about the fate of their loved ones.
The absence of any information about individuals missing for several months raises ongoing concerns about disappearances, torture and other ill-treatment. Myanmar state media reported on 3 February 2017 that a man, who had been detained in connection with the 9 October 2016 attacks, had died in custody while receiving treatment for an “inflammation of the stomach”. While at least another six people who were arrested as part of ongoing security operations have also died in custody, Amnesty International is not aware of any independent investigations into these deaths.
Following international pressure, Myanmar authorities have established a number of commissions to investigate alleged human rights violations committed during the security operations in northern Rakhine State. However due to several factors, including membership, none can be considered to be independent or impartial.
1) TAKE ACTION
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
Contact these two officials by 29 March, 2017:
Lt. Gen. Kyaw Swe
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10, Nay Pyi Taw
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Fax: +95 67 412 439
Salutation: Dear Minister
Ambassador H.E U Kyaw Myo Htut
Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
2300 S St. NW, Washington DC 20008
Fax: 1 202 332 4351 I Phone: 1 202 332 3344
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
2) LET US KNOW YOU TOOK ACTION
Here’s why it is so important to report your actions: we record the number of actions taken on each case and use that information in our advocacy. Either email firstname.lastname@example.org with “UA 10/17” in the subject line or click this link.
This appeal was published on Amnesty International USA website on February 15, 2017.