Motion for a resolution on the situation of the Rohingya people – B8-2017-0670

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Myanmar, in particular its resolution of 14 September 2017 on Myanmar, in particular the situation of Rohingyas(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2017 on statelessness in South and South East Asia(2),

–  having regard to the joint communication of 1 June 2016 by the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to the European Parliament and the Council entitled ‘Elements for an EU strategy vis-à-vis Myanmar/Burma: A Special Partnership for Democracy, Peace and Prosperity’ (JOIN(2016)0024),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the EU strategy with Myanmar/Burma of 20 June 2016, and to the Council conclusions on Myanmar/Burma of 16 October 2017,

–  having regard to the statement of 6 September 2017 by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on the situation in Rakhine State, to the statement of 11 September 2017 by the VP/HR on the latest developments in Rakhine State, Myanmar and the border region in Bangladesh, to the Declaration of 20 November 2017 by the VP/HR on behalf of the European Union on Myanmar/Burma and to the statement of 23 November 2017 by the VP/HR on the signing of a bilateral repatriation agreement between the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh,

–  having regard to the Security Council Presidential Statement of 6 November 2017,

–  having regard to the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State of August 2017,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas on 27 November 2017, according to the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG), a total of 624 000 Rohingya refugees had reportedly arrived in Bangladesh since 25 August 2017; whereas according to UNICEF at least 58 % of them are children;

B.  whereas on 27 November 2017, according to the Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), an estimated 441 300 people were residing in the Kutupalong-Balukhali agglomeration, 46 000 people were hosted in local communities, and the remainder were living in other sites in Cox’s Bazar; whereas the Kutupalong-Balukhali agglomeration is highly congested; whereas the ISCG has identified that because of overcrowding in Cox’s Bazar, health and nutrition are the most immediate and acute needs to be addressed;

C.  whereas the Rohingya represent the largest percentage of Muslims in Myanmar, with the majority living in Rakhine State; whereas the approximately one million Rohingya are one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, and have been officially stateless since the 1982 Burmese Citizenship Law;

D.  whereas the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army staged a major attack on police posts and an army base in Rakhine State on 25 August 2017; whereas this resulted in a military counteroffensive;

E.  whereas the humanitarian and human rights situation in Rakhine State is extremely serious; whereas three UN human rights experts concluded their first fact-finding mission in Bangladesh on 27 October 2017 and were ‘deeply disturbed’ by accounts of killings, torture, rape, arson and aerial attacks reportedly perpetrated against the Rohingya community in Myanmar;

F.  whereas, according to ECHO, access for humanitarian organisations remains highly restricted in Northern Rakhine; whereas some partial improvements in access to Northern Rakhine have been observed; whereas in Central Rakhine, small improvements have also been noted but access to this area continues to be limited as well; whereas the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, visited Northern Rakhine State in May 2017 and called for greater access for aid organisations working in the area; whereas the Commissioner visited several EU-funded humanitarian projects;

G.  whereas on 23 October 2017, the EU co-hosted the Pledging Conference on the Rohingya Refugee Crisis; whereas the EU and its Member States offered more than 50 % of the USD 344 million pledged; whereas with a pledge of EUR 30 million from the EU budget on 23 October 2017, the total Commission support to the Rohingya and their host communities in Bangladesh and Myanmar amounts to EUR 51 million for 2017;

H.  whereas on 23 November 2017 a bilateral repatriation agreement was signed between the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh; whereas the VP/HR has welcomed the signing of the repatriation agreement as an important and welcomed step towards addressing one of the worst humanitarian and human rights crises of our times;

I.  whereas during the Apostolic Trip of the Holy Father Francis to Myanmar and Bangladesh (26 November – 2 December 2017), the Holy Father addressed the following words to a group of Rohingya refugees at the end of the Interreligious and Ecumenical Meeting on 1 December 2017 in Dhaka: ‘Let us continue to do good to them; let us continue to act so that their rights may be recognised. Let us not close our hearts, let us not look the other way. The presence of God today is also called “Rohingya”. May each one of us give his own response’;

1.  Strongly condemns the widespread violence in Rakhine State, which has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians, the vast majority belonging to the Rohingya community;

2.  Expresses grave concern over the humanitarian and human rights situation in Rakhine State; is alarmed by reports on the systematic use of force and intimidation, killing of men, women, and children, sexual violence, and the destruction and burning of homes and property; is particularly concerned about the situation of children, in desperate need of shelter, food and water, and of girls at risk of trafficking for sexual exploitation;

3.  Supports the EU’s call on all sides to bring an immediate end to all violence; welcomes the fact that the EU is urging the Myanmar military to end its operations, to ensure the protection of all civilians without discrimination and to fully observe international human rights law; welcomes the EU’s call on the Government of Myanmar to take all measures to defuse tensions between communities;

4.  Commends the efforts undertaken by the Government of Bangladesh and host communities to provide safety, shelter and humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya refugees;

5.  Calls on the Government of Myanmar to grant immediate, full, safe and unhindered access to UN agencies and their partners, as well as other domestic and international non-governmental organisations, to provide humanitarian assistance in Rakhine State, in particular for children;

6.  Stresses that the allegations of serious human rights violations and abuses, including sexual violence and abuse and violence against children, must be thoroughly investigated and all those responsible for such acts held to account; urges the Government of Myanmar to cooperate fully with the Human Rights Council’s independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar and to allow it full, safe and unhindered access to the country without delay;

7.  Calls on the Government of Myanmar to grant domestic and international media organisations full and unhindered access to Rakhine State and to ensure the safety and security of media personnel;

8.  Welcomes the signing of a bilateral repatriation agreement between the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh; calls for the implementation of the agreement in full compliance with international law; calls on the Government of Myanmar to create the conditions on the ground that will allow for a voluntary, safe and dignified return of the refugees to their places of origin;

9.  Calls on the Government of Myanmar to address the root causes of the crisis in Rakhine State by respecting, promoting and protecting human rights, without discrimination and regardless of ethnicity or religion, including by allowing freedom of movement, equal access to basic services and equal access to full citizenship for all individuals;

10.  Welcomes the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, which puts forward recommendations to surmount the political, socio-economic and humanitarian challenges that Rakhine State is currently facing; welcomes the Government of Myanmar’s public commitment to implement the recommendations, as well as the establishment of a ministerial-level committee to implement the recommendations; calls for the swift and full implementation of these recommendations;

11.  Welcomes the EU humanitarian aid to the Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh; welcomes the fact that the EU has stepped up its humanitarian assistance for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and that it stands ready to extend its activities in Rakhine State in favour of all people in need once access is granted;

12.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Government and Parliament of Bangladesh and the Government and Parliament of Myanmar.

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