Rohingya Refugee Crisis

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:27 pm on 20th December 2018.

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Photo of Stephen Twigg Stephen Twigg Chair, International Development Committee 1:27 pm, 20th December 2018

It is a pleasure and privilege to follow my hon. Friend Rushanara Ali and Mrs Main. They make a powerful cross-party team in leading this debate, and in their excellent and ongoing efforts to ensure that the cause of the Rohingya remains firmly on our agenda in the House and the public debate.

The International Development Committee has followed closely the ongoing humanitarian crisis—Paul Scully is our rapporteur on the issue—and over the past year we have published three reports relating to Burma, Bangladesh and the Rohingya. The first report, from January, focused on the issues that both hon. Members spoke about, including the culmination of decades of marginalisation, persecution and abuse that the Rohingya people have faced in Burma.

We then looked more widely at the work of the UK Government in general, and DFID in particular, in Bangladesh and Burma. Like others, the Committee visited the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, and we heard the voices of the Rohingya people and saw the huge challenges of life in the camps for those families. The scale and complexity of this humanitarian crisis is best experienced at first hand if at all possible. We also sought to visit Burma and to ask difficult questions about what is happening, but we were refused visas by the Burmese Government.

In our final report, we joined the call, already set out so eloquently today, on the UK Government to gather support for the UN Security Council to refer Burma to the International Criminal Court and to apply targeted financial sanctions against identifiable key figures with responsibility for what is happening. I am pleased again today to echo those calls for the UK to pursue such an ICC referral, but I will focus my remarks on the other issues raised in the motion, about repatriation and some of the broader humanitarian concerns.