World Leaders Must Use ASEAN Summit to End Horrific Violence Against Rohingya

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (November 11, 2017)— Save the Children is urging world leaders attending the ASEAN summit in the Philippines to use their influence to end the violence, killing and persecution faced by Rohingya in Myanmar.

In the past 11 weeks more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled their homes in Myanmar, an ASEAN member state, driven out by horrific and targeted attacks by the military and local groups, including the burning of entire villages. Now they face a desperate situation in Bangladesh where most Rohingya live in flimsy shelters made of plastic, one in four children under five is suffering malnutrition and conditions are ripe for a major outbreak of disease like cholera.

"The Rohingya crisis is a defining moment of our time, both globally and regionally. It must be made clear to the Government of Myanmar that there will be political and economic costs if it continues to fail in its duty to protect. How world leaders act now will be judged by history. We urge those attending the ASEAN summit to stand together to bring about real change," Save the Children’s Asia Regional Director, Hassan Noor Saadi said.

"The harrowing situation faced by the Rohingya is a stain on the conscience of all ASEAN members and far greater effort and unity is needed to bring about an end to the violence. ASEAN cannot celebrate its fiftieth anniversary and at the same time remain silent on the situation in Myanmar."

Save the Children is calling on world leaders gathered in Manila to use their diplomatic influence to ensure the Myanmar Government:

  • Stops violence in Northern Rakhine State.
  • Allows full and unhindered humanitarian access to all peop le in need in Rakhine State.
  • Permits the UN fact-finding mission full access to Myanmar.
  • Supports the return of Rohingya refugees to their places of origin in a voluntary, safe, sustainable and dignified manner.
  • Begins a process to bring perpetrators to justice.

Save the Children’s Country Director in Myanmar, Michael McGrath said that many Rohingya still remaining in Myanmar were suffering and in urgent need of help.

"It’s critical that unfettered humanitarian access is allowed in all parts of Rakhine state to enable the provision of life-saving aid to those in need," McGrath said. "People are suffering from food shortages, a lack of access to healthcare and restrictions on movement and they require urgent assistance."

High profile world leaders attending the ASEAN summit include UN Secretary General António Guterres, US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as numerous other heads of states.

"This is our best opportunity yet to end the violence faced by the Rohingya in Myanmar and bring about a long-term solution to the crisis. There is a lot of sway and influence in the room when powers are combined. ASEAN 2017 must be the time the world says ‘enough’, Noor Saadi added.

"The needs are urgent. Through our work in Bangladesh our staff have heard first-hand of the horrific violence that many Rohingya children have experienced or witnessed back home in Myanmar, including reports of widespread killings, rape and sexual violence. This is a children’s emergency of the highest order."

Save the Children has a long history working in Myanmar, including supporting those living in camps in Sittwe and Pauktaw. The international humanitarian organization is also responding in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, where it has reached over 230,000 Rohingya through distributions of food, shelter and household items, provision of medical care and malnutrition screening and treatment, and child protection activities.

To learn more and to support Save the Children’s Rohingya response, please visit:

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