Rohingya crisis: UK MPs refused visas to visit Myanmar
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Rohingya crisis: UK MPs refused visas to visit Myanmar

The International Development Committee (IDC) of Britain’s Parliament was scheduled to visit Myanmar and Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have fled.

world Updated: Mar 05, 2018 22:48 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Myanmar,Bangladesh,British MPs
Rohingya migrants wait at a relief centre at the Balukhali refugee camp at Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh on November 30, 2017. Rohingya are still fleeing into Bangladesh even after an agreement was signed with Myanmar to repatriate hundreds of thousands of the Muslim minority displaced along the border.(AFP)

Britain has said it is “highly regrettable” that members of a parliamentary committee were refused visas by Myanmar to visit the country as part of their inquiry into the Rohingya-related work of the Department for International Development (DFID).

The International Development Committee (IDC) of Parliament was scheduled to visit Myanmar and Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have fled. Britain is one of the largest providers of aid for the refugees.

A report by the committee on the crisis published in January had expressed “grave concerns” over Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya, their mass displacement and plans to repatriate thousands of them back to Myanmar without safeguards.

Stephen Twigg, chair of the 11-member committee that includes senior Labour MP Veerendra Sharma, said: “We are extremely disappointed. It is hard to escape the conclusion that this is a direct consequence of our report on the Rohingya.

“The result is that planned meetings with government ministers and military personnel in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, including with state counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, have had to be cancelled.”

The Foreign Office minister for Asia, Mark Field, told the House of Commons: “Burmese officials have indicated three reasons for the refusal: first, that there is an extended public holiday in Burma; secondly, that access to Rakhine state remains restricted for security reasons; and finally…that they were unhappy that individual members of the IDC had signed a letter calling for the senior general of the Burmese army to be held to account for Burmese military behaviour in Rakhine.”

London continues to refer to Myamar by its colonial name of Burma.

Field added that the UK government remained committed to support Myanmar’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

First Published: Mar 05, 2018 22:43 IST