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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

MEP demands citizenship for Rohingyas following visit to Cox’s Bazar

16 February 2018

Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP, has called for action following a visit to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh – a region that has faced an influx of more than 688,000 Rohingya refugees since August 2017.

Ms Lambert, in her capacity as Chair of the European Parliament’s South Asia delegation, visited Rohingya refugee camps to gather first-hand information on the ongoing humanitarian crisis, and to speak to Rohingya people about their experiences, living conditions and concerns for the future. [1]

It is hoped that the situation will be discussed by the European Parliament in a plenary session later this month.

Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP and Chair of the European Parliament South Asia delegation, said:

“The crisis faced by the Rohingya people in Cox’s Bazar is a humanitarian tragedy, and one of the most alarming refugee situations I have witnessed in my years as an MEP. This community has been exposed to unimaginable violence and deliberate destruction.

In extremely difficult circumstances the Bangladeshi authorities have shown huge commitment to providing assistance. However, I am worried that – if past experience is any guide – there is unlikely to be a swift resolution to this complex crisis.

As the monsoon season approaches, I hope the Bangladeshi Government will find additional land to relocate Rohingyas whose makeshift shelters are not built to withstand landslides and flooding. The construction of these shelters and loss of so many trees for firewood from the soft soil of the hillsides has created a very vulnerable environment that will put some 125,000 people particularly at risk when the rains come.

However, if we hope to forge a truly sustainable solution to this crisis, Myanmar must respect the dignity of the Rohingya people. I am calling on Myanmar to put in place citizenship rights for the Rohingyas, which were revoked in 1982. It must immediately grant access to humanitarian organisations and the international community to Rakhine State. Any return to Myanmar must engage UNHCR and be voluntary, safe and secure for the Rohingya people.

I promise that MEPs will do what we can to make sure this issue does not fade from international attention, and that more money is provided. We must not turn our backs on the people of Bangladesh and the thousands of Rohingyas who urgently need our support. We will continue to work towards a sustainable solution that addresses the root causes of this catastrophe.”


[1] The European Parliament’s South Asia delegation visited Cox’s Bazar on 12 January, alongside a delegation from the Parliament’s Sub-Committee on Human Rights. After the visit, the Human Rights committee continued into Rakhine State. The South Asia delegation visited Dhaka to discuss the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact that aims to improve working conditions in the garment sector, and the Bangladeshi elections scheduled for 2019.