Visit to the Kutupalong refugee camp
The helicopter flight over the camp takes a whole five minutes. More than 800,000 Rohingya live here in temporary buildings. On his trip to Bangladesh, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel pledged a further 20 million euros of aid for the Kutupalong refugee camp. “The international community must ensure that supplies to support the Rohingya remain adequate”, said Gabriel.
This is a refugee crisis that has only recently become a focus of international attention. Since the end of August, Bangladesh has taken in more than 600,000 Rohingya fleeing from the province of Rakhine in neighbouring Myanmar, many of whom are living in the refugee camp in Kutupalong.
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority. They are not recognised as citizens in Myanmar with its majority Buddhist population, and there have been multiple waves of expulsion. Many Rohingya have sought refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh, where around 400,000 Rohingya already lived prior to the current crisis.
While Bangladesh’s willingness to help is overwhelming, the country is reaching its limits. As one of the most densely populated countries in the world, it continues to suffer from the impact of severe flooding. Not only is the security situation tense, but Bangladesh numbers among the world’s poorest nations.
The international community therefore pledged 360 million euros to tackle the crisis at a pledging conference in Geneva at the end of October. Germany has also long supported the Rohingya and has now reaffirmed its support for Bangladesh.
The Foreign Minister’s trip was also a reflection of the international community’s support in this crisis. Gabriel did not travel alone, but was accompanied by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono.
International support is an important first step. At the same time, the dialogue must be pursued at the political level, said Gabriel. Together with the Government in Myanmar, everything must now be done to allow the Rohingya to return, he added. Moreover, discussions must be held concerning the conditions under which the Rohingya can live in Myanmar.
After his visit to Bangladesh, Gabriel will travel onwards to Myanmar. He will attend the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Nay Pyi Taw prior to returning to Berlin on Monday evening.