Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwartz for Population, Refugees, and Migration today said the stateless Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are subjected to systematice and severe violations of human rights.
In his mission to Bangladesh, Mr. Schwartz said the Rohingya are among many stateless populations throughout the world – people who have no nationality.
According to Mr. Schwatz, Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic group from western Burma. Under successive Burmese regimes over several decades, they have been rendered stateless and subjected to systematic and severe violations of human rights.
He said as a result of many deprivations, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh over the last three decades, principally in two waves in 1978 and 1991-92.
Without documentation or legal status, Mr. Schwartz said the stateless people are vulnerable to serious abuses.
“To address this problem, our Bureau is working with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and others on a range of initiatives, which include efforts to promote equal nationality rights for women and a child’s right to nationality.” – Mr. Schwartz
In his mission in Bangladesh, Mr. Schwartz visited registered and unregistered refugees in Kutupalong camp and makeshift site, home to more than 30,500 Rohingya.
He reported that currently in Bangladesh, over 28,000 Rohingya are in two UNHCR-supported camps, another 30,000 are in informal encampments, and hundreds of thousands are elsewhere in the Cox’s Bazar district in Southeastern Bangladesh near the border with Burma.
He travelled to Cox’s Bazar district, which hosts most of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. He visited the UNHCR-supported Kutupalong camp, with over 11,500 Rohingya, and an adjoining informal encampment with about 19,000. He has spoken with the refugees and learned about the deprivation and abuse that had forced them from their homes in Burma.
“I also learned about current challenges, especially those faced by Rohingya who are outside the UNHCR-assisted camps – such as very high rates of malnutrition and lack of access to services. Our delegation spoke with women in particular to assess their concerns about a range of issues, including access to reproductive healthcare and education.” -Mr. Schwartz
He stressed that while the international community has an obligation to try to improve the quality of life for the Rohingya who remain in western Burma, the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya now in Bangladesh will need help in Bangladesh for the foreseeable future.