I am pleased that today (6 November) the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has spoken with one voice on the appalling situation in Rakhine State, Burma. More than 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh, amidst horrifying reports of gross human rights violations. The humanitarian situation remains desperate.
The UK has repeatedly called on the Burmese security forces to protect all civilians and act now to stop the violence and allow humanitarian aid to urgently reach all those who need it. The UNSC has today joined us in that call, with this historic Presidential Statement on Burma.
I am encouraged to see State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi making important steps forward, including establishing a domestic body to deliver humanitarian and development assistance in Rakhine, and making efforts to promote interfaith and intercommunal harmony, including a recent visit to northern Rakhine. The UK will be watching closely to ensure that the Burmese security forces do not attempt to frustrate these efforts.
I also applaud the work of the Bangladesh government, which is working hard to ensure the refugees receive urgent aid. The recent agreements between Burma and Bangladesh are welcome, and I hope they can now make swift progress on the voluntary, safe, and dignified returns of refugees to Burma. The Burmese security forces must take steps to ensure the right conditions are in place for refugees to return.