Canadian special envoy Bob Rae releases a report on the humanitarian and security crisis in Myanmar at a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canada should take leadership role in Rohingya crisis, says Bob Rae


Canada should take a leadership role in responding to the current crisis affecting the Rohingya minority by stepping up its humanitarian and development efforts in Bangladesh and Myanmar, Canada’s special envoy to Myanmar, says in his final report.

“Canada’s response should focus on providing humanitarian assistance, education, supporting infrastructure, and mitigating the impact of the violent deportation on Rohingya women and girls by providing strong support to UN and other international organizations working in camps and elsewhere,” Bob Rae said in his report unveiled on Tuesday.

“Education in particular should become a priority for our longer-term approach.”

These recommendations are part of a 17-point to do list drafted by the former Ontario premier and veteran Liberal politician on how Canada and its international partners should respond to the crisis that has seen more than 670,000 of Rohingyas flee the predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, also known as Burma, to neighbouring Bangladesh following a crackdown by Burmese security forces.

The report, entitled Tell them we’re human, also calls on Canada to develop a multi-year funding plan estimated by Rae to cost about $150 million for the next four years.

“Our first obligation is to protect lives,” the report says. “Meeting this obligation will require presence, perseverance, and patience: presence because we cannot cede the entire terrain to those whose commitment to individual freedom and the rule of law has been found badly wanting; perseverance because our efforts will be met with resistance, denial, and at times a refusal to engage; and patience because it will take longer and will require more effort than we currently appreciate.”

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday, Rae said the report’s title was inspired by a conversation at a refugee camp in Bangladesh with a Rohingya teacher.

(click to listen to Bob Rae’s statement)


“I think Canadians need to really appreciate the extent to which that the Rohingya population feels that it has been obliterated, it has been marginalized and it has been lost,” Rae said. “This often happens in the most tragic situations of the world and I think the first recommendation that I make to the government is to give voice and place to the Rohingya people.”

On November 1, 2017, more Rohingya Muslims fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh to join the estimated 700,000 already sheltering there. (Bernat Armangue/AP Photo/file)

So far, however, the Canadian government and the international community in general have failed to influence the behaviour Myanmar’s military-dominated government and its civilian figurehead leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The military effectively controls the entire government and it’s not clear whether Suu Kyi, a Nobel poet laureate and an honourary Canadian citizen, has any real power, Rae said.

He wished, however, she had spoken out, and would speak out, Rae said.

“I’m not defending anybody,” Rae said. “What’s happened in Myanmar is terrible, and I think everyone in the government in Myanmar has to take their share of the responsibility for what’s taken place.”

Asked if the persecution of Rohingya is a genocide, Rae said he would not weigh into an academic debate over what meets the legal definition but said there are “disturbing echoes” of situations in past.

“The lesson of history is that genocide is not an event like a bolt of lightning,” the report says. “It is a process, one that starts with hate speech and the politics of exclusion, then moves to legal discrimination, then policies of removal, and then finally to a sustained drive to physical extermination.”

A Rohingya refugee woman breast-feeds her child after they crossed Myanmar-Bangladesh border at the village of Maughpara near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh December 25, 2017. (Marko Djurica/REUTERS)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who appointed Rae last October to give him advice on the humanitarian crisis, which the United Nations has described as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” welcomed the final report.

“Canada is determined to help respond to this crisis. In the coming weeks, we will assess the recommendations in this report and outline further measures we intend to take,” Trudeau said in a statement.

“This report brings much needed awareness to the grave humanitarian crisis and gross violations of human rights faced by hundreds of thousands of people including Rohingya communities, other religious and ethnic minorities, and women and girls.”

Canada continues to drive critical humanitarian work in the region, Trudeau said. Since the beginning of 2017, Ottawa has provided $45.9 million for aid agencies working to deliver life-saving support for refugees, displaced people, and the communities who are hosting them, he said.

With files from CBC News

Categories: International, Politics
Tags: , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.


One comment on “Canada should take leadership role in Rohingya crisis, says Bob Rae
  1. Avatar Peter Ashcroft says:

    The Rohingyas have, unfortunately, caused a three way problem (courtesy of Myanmar / Burma dictatorship)
    The first is their need for food and accommodation.
    The second is for temporary relocation with requisite supplies.
    The third is their return to Myanmar / Burma once the military dictatorship has been replaced by a benevolent Government with pacific, not warring, Buddhism.