According to the United Nation’s Refugee Agency the UNHCR, there are now over 412,000 Rohingya refugees estimated to have fled to Bangladesh since 25 August. This is a massive humanitarian crisis in our region and according to Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, a situation requiring the urgent attention and action of world leaders.
The Moderator joined with a number of faith leaders on Saturday 16 September on the steps of Parliament House to add his voice for peace in the Rakhine state of Myanmar.
“Aung San Suu Kyi has earned a Nobel Peace Prize for her work supporting democratic reforms for her people, so we know the capacity and willingness to work for peace is present – we now urge her to stand up for the Rohingyan people too. All people, no matter their ethnicity or religion deserve human rights,” Steve said.
This follows the call made by the President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Stuart McMillan, who urged the Australian Government to take a lead in efforts to end the brutal violence against the Rohingya people in Myanmar.
“The Australian Government must urgently work alongside the international community to halt what is justifiably being described as the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority by military forces,” said Stuart.
“We are thankful to the Australian Government for the announcement of $5 million in aid to respond to the crisis which will go towards much needed emergency assistance in the region.
“We encourage the Government to provide this and any further assistance it can to ensure that those fleeing this tragic situation have access to food, shelter and security for as long as is necessary.”
Saturday’s peaceful demonstration outside the West Australian Parliament saw large numbers of concerned citizens voice their desire for an end to violence in the region.
“Our prayers are with the fleeing families,” Steve said. “We pray for peace and safety for all people and we ask our Australian government to urgently provide a special allocation of humanitarian visas to this particularly vulnerable cohort of refugees.”
People are encouraged to donate to the UNHCR Rohingya emergency appeal here.