We continue to be gravely concerned by the situation in Rakhine State, Burma. The already dire humanitarian situation has deteriorated following the expulsion of Médecins Sans Frontières in February, and violence against the offices and residences of humanitarian aid workers in March, leading to the forced cessation of critical humanitarian relief operations. As a result, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people in Rakhine, mainly from the Rohingya community, are not receiving vital medical and humanitarian aid.
Minister for Asia, the Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP, summoned the Burmese Ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 7 April. He called on the Burmese Government urgently to restore humanitarian access to all communities in need, and to ensure the security of humanitarian aid workers and all communities in Rakhine State. He also expressed the Government’s deep concern about the conduct of the census - in particular the reversal of the Burmese Government’s commitment to allow the Rohingya to self-identify their ethnicity.
We have repeatedly urged the Burmese Government to ensure the conduct of the census meets international norms and standards. We are engaging in further discussions, together with the UN and other donors, on further steps we might take.
The international community – UK, Switzerland, Norway, Australia, Finland, Sweden, Germany and Japan - is giving funds and technical support to the census through UNFPA. The British Government, through the Department for International Development, has committed £10m which has been used to fund census training and payments for enumerators, communications and publicity, technical assistance and mapping. We continue to lobby the Burmese Government and UN to manage the political risks and ethnic tensions. We are monitoring the situation daily and in constant dialogue with the Burmese Government and UN.
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