Press release

International Development Secretary calls for aid to reach Burma

Priti Patel has continued her calls for humanitarian access into Burma to ensure that further lives are not lost.

Picture: UNICEF
Picture: UNICEF

Following the UN Security Council’s meeting on Burma yesterday, International Development Secretary Priti Patel has continued her calls for humanitarian access into Burma to ensure that further lives are not lost.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:

I am appalled that more than half a million Rohingyas have been forced to flee their homes because of the horrific violence in Burma. Those who escaped, carrying little or nothing, have had to make the treacherous journey across the border into Bangladesh to seek safety, with countless people dying or losing loved ones.

I implore the Burmese authorities to ensure immediate and sustained humanitarian access into northern Rakhine State so that UK aid can provide a lifeline to all those who have been left to suffer and who are in desperate need of food, water, shelter and healthcare.

The relentless denial of aid is a matter of life and death for those still in northern Rakhine. It is utterly intolerable that the military who are responsible for this inhumane catastrophe have not heeded calls for restraint and pleas to allow those who are now refugees to return safely to their homes.

Britain is leading the way as the largest bilateral donor to the crisis in Bangladesh and UK aid is already making a difference on the ground, providing food for 65,000 of the most vulnerable victims, health care for 50,000, and emergency shelter for up to 26,355. We are also supporting 7,500 children, many of whom have suffered traumatic ordeals and are at risk of sexual violence and trafficking.

The world must follow the UK in helping the Rohingyas, not just now but in the long-term.

Notes to editors:

The UK is deeply concerned by the violence taking place in Rakhine State, particularly by the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing that violence and the reports of grave human rights violations taking place.

As of 29 September 501,800 people have fled the violence into neighbouring Bangladesh. Numbers are rising.

The UK has been a leader in responding to the crisis – in speed and size – to help meet the urgent humanitarian needs of vulnerable men, women and children in both Bangladesh and Burma.

Prior to the latest violence which began on the 25 August 2017, we committed £5.9 million to meet the needs of the most vulnerable refugees and the host communities who support them.

In response to the latest influx we have provided a further £30 million of support.

Our existing work in the region meant that we were already in position to provide life-saving support when the crisis flared – without this, aid would have taken much longer to reach those in need. And we are sending more aid to Bangladesh.

In Rakhine State in Burma, aid workers have been getting British-funded humanitarian assistance to many tens of thousands of people. DFID’s partners are ready to provide emergency food to 30,000 people and to treat more than 3,000 severely malnourished children and pregnant women, but the Burmese authorities must stop refusing to grant access.

This lack of access on the Burma side means vital needs will not be met and lives lost. Britain urgently calls upon the Burmese military to end the violence in Rakhine and the Government of Burma to allow immediate and full humanitarian access and support for the people and communities affected.

We have raised the situation in two UN Security Council meetings and led work in the Council to develop an international response. The Foreign Secretary also held a Ministerial meeting of General Assembly members at the UN General Assembly this month to drive this process forward.

Mark Field, Minister for Asia at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, visited Rakhine State in Burma on Wednesday, 27 September. He held talks in Burma with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to press for an urgent resolution to the crisis in Rakhine.

On Thursday, 28 September Minister Burt and Minister Field hosted a series of high-level talks in Dhaka, Bangladesh with key Government officials and aid agencies to identify how best to provide lifesaving support to the large influx of refugees in Bangladesh.

Britain is ready to support the recommendations of the Kofi Annan led Rakhine Advisory Commission to assist the long-term development of all people in Rakhine state, but right now the immediate action is for the security forces to end the violence and the Government of Burma to allow humanitarian access.

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Published 29 September 2017