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 Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mistreatment of Myanmar's Rohingya minority requires coordinated regional response
10:02 AM ET

Sean Mariano Garcia [Advocate, Refugees International]: "The mistreatment of the Rohingya at home is increasingly impacting countries throughout Asia and a two-pronged approach is needed to adequately address their plight. First, Myanmar's neighbors should begin a dialogue to improve the lives of the Rohingya inside their homeland. This means moving towards citizenship rights and an end to harsh tactics used to encourage Rohingya to leave Myanmar. ASEAN should consider extending aid to the Rohingya as part of the effort to improve conditions for them inside Myanmar.

The perfect environment for a conversation around the Rohingya is in the context of ASEAN +2 (Bangladesh and India being key regional players in this context). ASEAN is scheduled to discuss this very issue at a February summit, and it should commit itself to an action plan that engages Myanmar and host countries on providing solutions. Simply issuing condemnations of Thailand's recent behavior will not be enough.

Second, countries that host Rohingya populations should begin to provide for their well-being, beginning with legal residencies and access to health care, education and other vital services. Until Myanmar recognizes the Rohingya as their own, the need for safe refuge remains vital for the protection of Rohingya refugees everywhere."

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