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Volume 596: debated on Wednesday 3 June 2015

The Department for International Development is one of the biggest international donors in Rakhine state. We have just increased our support by a further £6.2 million, bringing our support since 2012 to £18 million.

Does the Minister agree that the time is long overdue for Burma to address the persecution and poverty that force the Rohingya to flee? Does he think that the time is now right for the UN Secretary-General to lead the negotiations, so that humanitarian non-governmental organisations can gain access to Rakhine state?

Yes, and a director general of DFID is in Rakhine state as we speak, and we take every opportunity to push forward these matters.

Surely, the plight of thousands of Rohingya people adrift in the bay of Bengal must call for greater leadership from not only the United Nations but the United Kingdom. Should we ensure not only that we make representations in meetings with ambassadors but that our taxpayers’ aid and access to our diplomatic doors are made contingent on ensuring proper recognition of the Rohingya and full respect of human rights?

Absolutely. I have taken every opportunity to raise this matter with Burmese Ministers. My caution with respect to my hon. Friend’s suggested course of action is that I am not prepared to withdraw British aid from poor people simply because of the regime under which they suffer.

15. What is the UK doing to encourage a co-ordinated response to the south-east Asian boat migrant situation? (900074)

Our ambassador attended the recent conference with Malaysia and Bangladesh. We participated with a démarche of Burmese Ministers, along with the United States and the French, and we are doing everything that we can precisely to make this a regional response.