Refugees International is outraged by the deplorable actions of the Myanmar military over the past several days.
Well over 100,000 Rohingya from Rakhine State have been driven from their homes, and hundreds have reportedly been killed. Untold numbers are experiencing enormous deprivation and suffering as international humanitarian access is blocked to affected areas in Rakhine State. The military response to attacks by insurgents has been disproportionate and devastating to the broader civilian population. Make no mistake: ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity are taking place in the full view of the United Nations and governments of the world.
Leaders at the United Nations, in Asia, in the United States, and around the world, must condemn these actions, demand humanitarian access, and exercise their responsibility to protect. This should include a special Security Council session focused on these atrocities, high level visits to Naypyidaw and the affected areas, and stern multilateral sanctions against the government until these abuses come to an end.
World leaders must make clear to Myanmar’s military chief Min Aung Hlaing and other senior officers that continuing abuses will be met with consequences in the form of visa bans, asset freezes, and international accountability. World leaders should also make personal appeals to Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to end harmful rhetoric, including against international NGOs, to denounce the ongoing abuses, and to do everything in her power to stop them.
The international community must also rally to provide aid where those fleeing violence can be reached. Already more than 120,000 Rohingya have fled across the border to Bangladesh. This adds to already immense challenges documented by Refugees International in a July 2017 report: “Reluctant Refuge: Rohingya Safe but Note Secure in Bangladesh”. The Government of Bangladesh should keep its borders open and be strongly supported by the UN and governments around the world in efforts to provide aid and shelter to those in need.