EU advocates return of Rohingya to Burma five years into crisis

The European Union has defended on Wednesday the “safe, sustainable, dignified and voluntary” return of the Rohingya community to their places of origin in Burma, five years after the refugee crisis erupted due to the violent repression against this community in Rajine State.

In a joint statement the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, and the Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, have called on the Burmese authorities to create the right conditions for the return of this minority to the country, after recognizing that their future “remains uncertain”, and have supported the work for an independent mechanism to investigate the crimes committed against the Rohingya.

The EU recalls that this group has suffered war crimes and crimes against humanity that must be investigated and accounted for. It also regrets that the same military commanders who carried out a persecution against the Rohingya in the west of the country five years ago are now the leaders of the military junta that has been ruling Burma since the coup d’état in 2021.

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“Addressing the root causes of this crisis, including the systematic abuses suffered by hundreds of thousands of Rohingya in Rajine State must be an international priority. In this regard, the EU fully supports the work of the International Criminal Court,” they stressed in the statement, in which they noted “unequivocal support” for the Burmese people and all minorities in the country.

Separately, the EU acknowledges Bangladesh’s role as a host nation for refugee flows from western Burma, stressing that since 2017 it has employed “considerable efforts” to ensure protection and humanitarian assistance to nearly one million Rohingya refugees. In this regard, it warns of the need to find sustainable solutions to address the humanitarian dimension of this crisis.

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According to the latest figures provided by the UN, nearly 14 million people affected by the spiraling violence in Burma are in need of humanitarian aid. Of the one million Rohingya refugees, there are about 450,000 adolescents and children at risk of becoming a “lost generation”.

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