Rohingya refugees need immediate protection of their rights

Nearly one million Rohingya refugees are living in threadbare camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, after they fled their homes in Myanmar due to the military’s crimes against humanity - which are currently the subject of a case under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide at the International Court of Justice.

Now, COVID-19 has exacerbated the conditions of the Rohingya in the camps. Between March and mid-June 2020 about 400 Rohingya have been tested for COVID-19 and about 40 were confirmed positive with the virus. The frequency of tests is less than one percent of the refugee population. Some Rohingya refugees, including women, have been victims of harassment and coercive quarantine measures - which have stigmatized people in the community with health conditions. This has created fear among the Rohingya about reporting any illness or symptoms.

An ongoing restriction on access to the internet and telecommunication for the Rohingya in the refugee camps has limited their right to receive prompt and reliable information about COVID-19 and to communicate with family members in their home country or in other countries. The pandemic has limited the opportunity for Rohingya refugees, particularly women to seek legal support for sexual and gender-based violence.

The future of more than half a million Rohingya children hangs in balance, who continue to be denied access to quality education in the refugee camps. A plan to introduce the Myanmar curriculum of education for Rohingya children is now stalled for an indefinite period because of the pandemic.

With no place to call their home, no livelihood opportunities to secure a future for them, hundreds of Rohingya, many of them women and children, have taken dangerous journeys by boats to neighbouring countries, only to be denied entry and stranded at the sea for several months.

Without continued support through international cooperation, assistance and sharing of responsibility for providing protection, the rights of the Rohingya refugees will almost certainly continue to be violated.

Sign the petition to urge the international community to:

Ensure that the human rights of the Rohingya refugees are protected and that they receive the international assistance and cooperation they urgently need at this time.

Petitions are currently addressed to the governments of Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Indonesia and the United States.