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Letter of the day: Irish charity demands international action over the plight of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

MYANMAR CRISIS

Over 626,000 Rohingya people have crossed into Bangladesh from Myanmar since early August 2017. These people are fleeing violence in Rakhine State, where security forces are "clearing out terrorists".

The majority of the Rohingya are Muslims, but they are not recognised as citizens in Myanmar and are, therefore, considered a "stateless" people.

This is the third major movement of Rohingya into Bangladesh as a result of violence.

The first happened in the mid-1970s, the second in 1992, when I was in Cox's Bazar at the time to witness these terrified people seeking refuge in Bangladesh. The third major movement is the current crisis, which has escalated since mid-August.

On each of the previous occasions of movement of the Rohingya, they were encouraged to return to Myanmar, which many of them did, only for them, or their children, to have to flee once again.

The governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar have already agreed that the Rohingya should return to Myanmar on a "voluntary" basis.

However, until their citizenship is recognised and the systematic discrimination stops, there is little point in them returning to Myanmar.

Plan International is calling on the international community to prioritise the needs of vulnerable Rohingya children arriving in Bangladesh. Adolescent girls in particular must be protected, as they are one of the groups most at risk of gender-based violence within the camps.

PAUL O'BRIEN

CEO, Plan International Ireland, Dublin

Belfast Telegraph

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