Whilst the British Government did not raise the subject of Rohingya refugees at the UN Summit on Refugees on 19 September 2016, we remain keen to play our part in helping refugees globally. We are deeply concerned about the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya and have repeatedly raised our concerns with the Burmese Government at the highest levels. The Foreign Secretary, my Rt Hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), discussed the Rohingya with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi during her visit to the UK in September and I raised the issue in my intervention at the UN Secretary General’s Partnership Group during my visit to the UN General Assembly in September.
The British Government is one of the largest bilateral donors to Rakhine providing over £18 million in humanitarian assistance since the intercommunal violence of 2012. Across the border in south east Bangladesh, a total of 82,000 people have benefitted from UK funded humanitarian programmes. Since 2014, the British Government has provided nearly £8 million to address the humanitarian suffering of Rohingya refugees and the vulnerable Bangladeshi communities that host them.
We are encouraged to see the new Burmese Government has started to take real steps to try to defuse tensions in Rakhine while making progress for the Rohingya, including through the recently announced Rakhine Commission led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, formation of a cross-Government Rakhine committee and re-starting the citizenship verification exercise. On 25 August I issued a statement welcoming the establishment of the Rakhine Commission, and on 14 September I spoke by phone with Mr Annan to convey the UK’s strong support for his appointment and mandate.