Jordanian queen Rania Al Abdullah on Monday called on the international community to respond ‘effectively, quickly, and generously’ to alleviate the suffering of Rohingyas, decrying global inaction in the face of ‘what many are acknowledging now as an ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims.’
‘With no respect or regard for the principles of humanitarian and international law, the discrimination against and the persecution of the Rohingya minority has continued unabated, in full view of the world,’ she said.
Queen Rania made the remarks to the press during a visit to the Kutupalang Refugee Camp and its surrounding in Cox’s Bazar.
She reached Cox’s Bazar directly in the morning to see the Rohingya situation on the ground. State minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam received her at Cox’s Bazar International Airport. State minister of women and children affairs Meher Afroze Chumki was also present.
The queen spoke of the ‘shocking escalation of violence against the Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar,’ which has caused over 600,000 Rohingyas to flee from Myanmar’s Rakhine State since August.
‘One has to ask, why is the plight of this Muslim minority group being ignored? Why has this systematic persecution been allowed to play out for so long?’ she added.
In her capacity as a board member of the International Rescue Committee and as an advocate of the work of UN humanitarian agencies, she toured the Kutupalang Refugee Camp, meeting with several Rohingya women and children, who recently crossed into Bangladesh from Rakhine State in Myanmar.
Describing their stories of ‘unimaginable acts of violence,’ queen Rania mentioned Rohingyas’ accounts of children orphaned, women brutalized, family members butchered, and villages burned.
‘Before coming here, I had braced myself to witness some desperate conditions, but the stories I heard today were heartbreaking and harrowing,’ she said.
She has heard of systematic rape of young girls, who were trapped in schools and raped by soldiers. ‘I’ve heard of babies being kicked around like footballs and stomped on. I’ve heard family members telling me how they’ve seen their own parents killed, right before their eyes.’
‘This is something that is unacceptable,’ queen Rania said.
The queen said it is unforgivable that this crisis is unfolding on the world stage to a largely indifferent audience. ‘The world seems to be silent to what many are acknowledging now as an ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims.’
Queen Rania visited emergency services offered by humanitarian agencies at the camp, stopping at a UNHCR-run healthcare centre as well as a school that has been converted into a shelter to host hundreds of new arrivals, including unaccompanied children.
She then proceeded to the surrounding makeshift settlements, which were recently haphazardly set up to provide additional shelter to incoming refugees.
The queen, who is also the United Nations Children’s Fund’s first Eminent Advocate for Children, stopped by a child learning centre run by the agency, as well as a primary healthcare centre run by the International Organisation for Migration.
Queen Rania stated that 95 per cent of Muslim Rohingyas do not have access to safe water and more than three quarters lack food.
Queen Rania’s visit to Bangladesh coincides with a high level pledging conference taking place in Geneva on Monday, aiming to mobilise international resources for the Rohingya Crisis Response Plan. The plan, which calls for USD 434 million to help 1.2 million people through February 2018, is currently only 26 percent funded.
‘This visit helps draw attention to the incredible generosity of the government and people of Bangladesh, and helps maintain support to the fastest-growing refugee emergency today,’ said Louise Aubin, UNHCR’s senior emergency coordinator in Cox’s Bazar.
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