KUTUPALONG, Bangladesh – Members of the European Parliament called on Monday for increased efforts to face the challenge posed by the Rohingya crisis, after learning about the conditions in refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Around 688,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh over the last five months, escaping violence in Myanmar amid accusations against the army of ethnic cleansing and human rights violations.
“It’s a huge challenge for Bangladesh and also for international organizations. We must strengthen our efforts to give support especially to the organizations involved here,” German MEP Joachim Zeller told EFE.
Zeller, a member of the EP’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, highlighted the terrible situation created by lack of space, food and medical attention in camps.
The MEPs are scheduled to travel to Myanmar on Tuesday to meet with authorities in the country.
The Chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament, Italy’s Pier Antonio Panzeri, said that the MEP’s visit showed their commitment to finding a solution to the crisis.
He said they were to raise a series of questions with Myanmar authorities to ensure that an agreement with Bangladesh signed in Nov. to return the Rohingyas was “implemented with all guarantees in terms of human rights.”
The Chairman said he was disappointed with Burmese de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s conduct regarding the crisis, as she was awarded the EP’s Sakharov Prize for human rights in 1990 and is a Nobel peace laureate.
The current crisis erupted on Aug. 25, 2017, following an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group that led to a violent response by the Myanmar army in the state of Rakhine, where it is calculated that around one million Rohingyas lived.
Members of the mostly Muslim minority community are not recognized by Myanmar’s authorities, who consider them Bengali migrants and refuse to grant them citizenship.
The United Nations and various human rights organizations have said there is clear evidence of rights abuses in Myanmar, with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calling the army’s operations “ethnic cleansing” and saying there were indications of “genocide.”