ASEAN humanitarian trust fund may be used to help Rohingyas – AMMTC chair Cuy

September 21, 2017 - 4:15 PM
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A Rohingya refugee boy carries his belongings as he walks to a makeshift camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh September 18, 2017. REUTERS FILE

MANILA – The beleaguered Rohingya, the stateless people who have been fleeing to Bangladesh from Myanmar to escape persecution, may qualify for accessing the trust fund that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has put up for humanitarian and relief efforts for regional migrants and victims of human trafficking.

That’s according to Catalino Cuy, officer in charge of the Department of Interior and Local Government, who chairs the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC), which held its closing session on Thursday.

The mass exodus of the Rohingya in the region may be categorized as “irregular movement” and therefore the Rohingyas may benefit from the “trust fund to support emergency humanitarian and relief effort in the event
of irregular movement of persons in Southeast Asia.”

The AMMTC session was not able to tackle whether the fund will indeed be utilized to help the Rohingya, who have been pouring into Bangladesh in the hundreds of thousands to escape persecution in Myanmar – a crackdown that in turn was sparked by insurgents’ attacks, but which some critics of the Myanmar military have described as tantamount to “ethnic cleansing.”

According to Cuy, if there is an initiative to use the ASEAN fund for “irregular movement” to help the displaced Rohingyas, it is the ASEAN Secretariat that must approve this.