Canada commits $300M to Rohingya crisis, warns perpetrators will have ‘no place to hide’
The federal government will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to try to bring accountability to those behind the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya by the Myanmar military, and is warning that those responsible will have “no place to hide.”
In a press conference held Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the government will commit $300 million over three years to humanitarian and stabilization initiatives that will focus on efforts to preserve evidence of atrocities committed against the Muslim minority group.
“The funds were are announcing today will support ongoing efforts to document and preserve evidence of the atrocities committed,” she said.
“There can be no impunity.”
READ MORE: Report of Special Envoy to Myanmar Bob Rae
More than 700,000 Rohingya have been forced to flee their homes in Rakhine State since last summer.
That was when members of the Myanmar military launched a campaign of what the United Nations has described as ethnic cleansing and sexual violence against the minority after Rohingya extremists had attacked several military outposts earlier that summer.
The use of rape as a weapon of war by the military has been documented by international observers and Freeland said Wednesday that people must remember the violence has not stopped even as the sheer number of people fleeing becomes more staggering.
WATCH BELOW: Rohingya crisis so great that no international response can completely address it, Bob Rae says
Canada sanctioned one general from the Myanmar military earlier this year for his involvement in the ethnic cleansing campaign.
But Freeland said the $300-million pledge from Canada will be used to support further efforts to secure accountability — and to push for other nations to contribute to finding a way to stop the violence.
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“I think it is very, very important for the people who have been responsible for this atrocity, the people who are continuing this atrocity, that they will face justice,” Freeland said.
“The world community is watching and we will gather the facts. There will be no place to hide.”
The announcement of funding comes just over a month after Special Envoy Bob Rae released his report on the crisis.
WATCH BELOW: Should the Rohingya be sent back to Myanmar?
That report called for the government to commit $150 million each year over the next four years — a total of $600 million — to stabilize the situation.
He also urged the government to consider accepting some Rohingya as refugees.
Freeland said while the government is not matching the exact recommendation of Rae’s report, it is matching the spirit of it.
She also said that the issue of whether to accept Rohingya as refugees is one Canada cannot determine an answer to alone but that conversations are ongoing with the government of Bangladesh, where most of them have fled.
“Refugees require an exit permit to leave Bangladesh so it’s a complicated situation.”
The ideal solution, she noted, would be to find a way to be able to allow Rohingya to peacefully return to Myanmar.
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