The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister with responsibility for South East Asia, The Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP, has replied to a letter from UNA-UK's Chairman, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, calling on the UK government to take action to protect the Rohingya population in Burma.
In his reply, the Minister states that the UK is one of the most active members of the international community in supporting those calling for democracy and human rights in Burma. He cited the work being carried out by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the UN World Food Programme in aiding those displaced - well over 100,000 - by violence in Burma's Rakhine State.
He also reported that in discussions with Burmese government officials, the UK had pressed for humanitarian access to the affected areas, and for those responsible for the violence to be brought to account, including security forces where implicated. In addition, the UK had pushed for the Burmese government to address the non-citizen status of the Rohingya community - an area identified by UNA-UK and its members as being a root cause of the current violence and a priority issue in forging a long-term solution.
Whilst the Minister's reply did not make specific reference to UNA-UK's call for international monitors to be dispatched to report on the ongoing situation in Rakhine State, the letter did mention that Burma's internal Investigation Commission set up to probe the causes of the violence had been given free access to the affected areas in order to report on the situation.
UNA-UK applauds the UK for its efforts to date. Along with its members and supporters, the Association urges the UK to do more to protect Burma's minority communities.
In this regard, UNA-UK reiterates its call for the UK to use its position in the UN Security Council to remind the Burmese government of its responsibility to protect all populations within its borders.
Update: cease-fire announced in Kachin state, Burma
UNA-UK welcomes the recent announcement of a cease-fire in Burma's northern state of Kachin. The ceasefire, announced on 20 January by the Burmese Government, follows a three week offensive by the Burmese Army against Kachin rebel fighters. Violence in Kachin State since June 2011 has left 75,000 internally displaced persons.