UNICEF responds to recommendations from Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar
TORONTO, April 3, 2018 – A new report from Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar highlights the ever-growing crisis facing the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who are struggling to find safety. After having fled horrific violence in Myanmar last August, more than 360,000 Rohingya children are now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in Bangladesh.
“Mr. Rae has just confirmed what UNICEF’s frontline workers in Bangladesh have been witnessing for months: a refugee crisis of shocking proportions that is threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of children,” said David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO. “Today, Canada has the opportunity to do what Canada does best – to step up and help those who need it most.”
Since August 25, 2017, more than 671,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh, carrying with them tales of horrific violence, rape and of murder. Chased from their homes and communities, the Rohingya are a people cast adrift, trapped in limbo and deprived of their basic rights, while facing fresh threats to their health and lives. Children, especially, continue to be the victims of deliberate attacks, face heightened risks of exploitation and abuse and are paying the highest price for the war.
In Tell Them We’re Human: What Canada and the World Can Do About the Rohingya Crisis, Rae calls for Canada to take a leadership role. His recommendations for the Government of Canada include increasing humanitarian and development efforts in both Bangladesh and Myanmar, including creating a multi-year funding plan for education. Among his 17 recommendations, Rae also calls for Canada to insist on greater humanitarian access to vulnerable communities, and to support a credible and effective process of investigation to hold those responsible for international crimes, including crimes against humanity and genocide, to account.
UNICEF has been working in both Myanmar and Bangladesh, delivering life-saving assistance, including nutrition and health services, safe water and sanitation, protection services and support to education. In Bangladesh, UNICEF has vaccinated more than 900,000 people against cholera, and is offering traumatized children the chance to begin healing and learning in child friendly spaces.
“We are very pleased to see recommendations around support for education. Educating children in times of crises is key to helping them contribute to peace,” said Morley. “Canada is being called on to lead. In the midst of this tragedy, our nation has the opportunity to bring life-changing opportunities to hundreds of thousands of children at risk.”
UNICEF calls on both the Myanmar and Bangladesh Governments to safeguard the rights of all children affected by the crisis – their obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. UNICEF calls the Government of Myanmar to end the violence, and to address the human rights crisis in Rakhine State, including restrictions on the Rohingya people’s freedom of movement, extremely limited access to health care, education and livelihoods, and consequent dependence on humanitarian support.
UNICEF also calls on the international community to continue providing life-saving humanitarian support for Rohingya children and their families, to invest in quality education for all Rohingya children and to support the call for unrestricted humanitarian access to deliver aid to the hardest-to-reach.