Jo Stevens

A strong voice for Cardiff Central

Rohingya Refugee Crisis


Earlier this month I visited the Rohingya refugee camp in Kutupalong, Bangladesh as part of a fact finding visit with the UNHCR and a small number of MPs. Nearly 1 million Rohingya people have fled Rakhine Provine in Myanmar (Burma). Since 25th August 2017, over 600,000 people, mainly women and children have arrived in the refugee camps. Many are victims of sexual violence and torture and many have witnessed the murder and rape of members of their family by the Burmese military as they have fled. Their homes and villages have been destroyed by the military. Yesterday I spoke in a debate about the crisis. We were limited to 3 minutes so I didn’t have enough time to say everything I wanted to.




Speech Transcript
It's a pleasure to follow on from the Honourable member and I'd like to thank my Honourable Friend the Member for the City of Durham for securing this important debate and it's so good to see so many colleagues here.
Particularly, from the CPA delegation of which I was a member just a couple of weeks ago. I have a very substantial British Bangladeshi diaspora in my constituency and when the Rohingya crisis developed at such speed and such scale during the last couple of months I received a lot of representation and a lot of concern expressed about what was going on and so I felt very privileged to take part in that delegation to actually go and see for myself what was actually happening and I wanted to understand the nature of the crisis, but also the role the Bangladeshi Government and its people have played in the humanitarian effort.
Most importantly to see then what I, what we, what the Government can do and should do both in terms of humanitarian support and political, international solutions. I'd like to reiterate the praise that we've heard today for the Bangladeshi Government, for the Bangladeshi host families in Cox's Bazaar, the NGOs and the generous fundraising efforts of the British public and in relation to the last point I just wanted to mention my local Councillor Ali Ahmed and the Bangladeshi Association in Cardiff who so far have raised £30,000 for the international relief effort.
But, what I saw and what I heard directly at the Kutupalong camp will stay with me for a very long time and just one thing that I saw this mass of humanity as far as the horizon and that was not the entire camp it was only a small proportion of that camp. Just a mass of humanity, no space, no water, no sanitation, and people picking up shelter packs. I don't know where they were going to walk to in order to erect these pieces of tarpaulin and bamboo shoots to make some sort of shelter, because there was no space. As we approach the cyclone season I really worry that if a cyclone hits that camp we will see the destruction and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people so I have 3 questions for the Minister.
I would like to thank him for a very frank, discussion at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh last week but I know that he was visiting Myanmar recently. I would like to ask him what representations were made and to whom on that trip, can he tell us about a bit more about the response that he got, what can he tell us about the agreement between Burma and Bangladesh about the return of the Rohingya to Burma which disturbs me and obviously several other members very greatly and what efforts to take up the point of the honourable member about China, what efforts are being made diplomatically with the Chinese who clearly have significant leverage in order to make the Burmese regime deal with this situation, because so far they’ve done nothing and have been complicit in what I and others would call genocide. 


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