Viewing cable 04BRUSSELS4013, EUROPEAN COMMISSION CONCERNED ABOUT ROHINGYA
|04BRUSSELS4013||2004-09-21 12:02||2011-08-26 00:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Brussels|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS BRUSSELS 004013 SIPDIS SENSITIVE E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PREF PREL BG BM EUN USEU BRUSSELS SUBJECT: EUROPEAN COMMISSION CONCERNED ABOUT ROHINGYA REFUGEES ¶1. (SBU) Summary. The European Commission (EC) is concerned about the plight of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, including the lack of adequate educational opportunities for refugee children. Those living outside official refugee camps without official status are at greater risk. The EC would provide significant funding if the GoB agreed to allow the local integratation of the Rohingyas. End Summary. ¶2. (SBU) On 9/10, PRM Assistant met with EC officers -- DG RELEX Administrator for Southeast Asia and Uprooted Peoples Thomas Gnocchi and DG RELEX Bangladesh desk officer Ana Beatriz Martins -- to discuss the Rohingya refugees. Martins spoke at length about the living conditions in both the official camps and the "unofficial" Teknaf camp. According to Martins, conditions in the official camps are relatively good. However, he noted that the exceedingly low levels of education in the camps have become a focus of concern. Gnocchi said that the Bangladeshi government requires lessons to be taught in Burmese so as to keep the ties alive and encourage future return. Since there are few teachers who speak the required language, many refugee children are not receiving satisfactory schooling and their future is in jeopardy. ¶3. (SBU) The "unofficial" camp in Teknaf, on the other hand, is facing more immediate difficulties and hardships. "The living conditions in Teknaf," stated Martins, "are abysmal." Unfortunately, the peculiarities surrounding their situation merely serve to complicate their eligibility for aid. Many of its residents have unknowingly lost their status as refugees, often as a result of failed attempts to repatriate to Rakhine State. Martins added that as a result the Bangladeshi government recognizes them not as refugees, or even as former refugees, but as illegal immigrants. ¶4. (SBU) With the help of the UNHCR, the EC is pushing for the implementation of a self-sufficiency program that aims to increase accessibility to educational and vocational training. Thus far, the Bangladeshi government has neither endorsed nor denounced this program. This is significant considering the continued hard-line approach by the government to the plight of these refugees. Gnocchi noted that the Rohingyas, numbering 19,500 persons, comprise a small fraction of the overall migration problem. He added that Bangladesh has the capacity to absorb this rather small group, but refuses to for fear of igniting a mass movement of refugees. Martins acknowledged the legitimacy of such fears, but stated that they could be avoided if a low profile was maintained. Gnocchi added that the EC is willing to offer significant development projects in the region if local integration were accepted as an option by Bangladesh. ¶5. (SBU) In response to the current stagnation surrounding the plight of these refugees, the EC is in the process of redefining its vision for Bangladesh, according to Martins. They plan to pursue deeper discussion on the issue with Member States under the Dutch Presidency. Martins added that the current turmoil plaguing the region both heightens this need and frustrates any possibility of resolving the issue. Martins and Gnocchi inquired about future coordination with the U.S. on this issue.
Credit : wikileaks http://wikileaks.org/cable/2004/09/04BRUSSELS4013.html