Statements and articles »

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Andre Pung at the Pledging Conference in response to the Rohingya Crisis


Pledging Conference in response to the Rohingya Refugee Crisis




Statement by

H.E. Mr. Andre PUNG

Ambassador, Permanent Representative

of the Republic of Estonia


Geneva, 23 October 2017



Thank you, Chair.

Please allow me to start by thanking co-hosts the European Union and the Government of Kuwait and the organisers - OCHA, IOM and UNHCR - for this very timely Pledging Conference. Estonia would also like to extend its gratitude to the speakers this morning for sharing their insights on the worrying situation of the Rohingya Refugee Crisis. The violence in Rakhine state has triggered the largest and swiftest refugee exodus witnessed in the region in recent decades. In this context, we commend the hospitality and generosity of the people and the government of Bangladesh in welcoming and assisting the Rohingya refugees.

The humanitarian situation at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh is deeply worrying. The speed and scale of the influx has caused a critical humanitarian emergency and urgent needs: without a rapid, comprehensive response, we risk significant harm and loss of life. The Rohingya face serious health risks, including disease outbreaks like cholera and acute diarrhoea. Yet, it is also to be kept in mind that hundreds of thousands of people still remain in Rakhine state in very worrying circumstances. Estonia emphasizes the need to grant unhampered access to humanitarian actors in order to address the humanitarian needs in Rakhine state. The human suffering of the Rohingya must not be ignored and it is crucial that the obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law are upheld and respected. Addressing the root causes must be a priority and the violence needs to stop immediately. We also encourage all sides to implement the recommendations made by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, chaired by Kofi Annan.

Mister Chairperson, allow me to address in particular our deep concern about the most vulnerable groups – women and children, including unaccompanied minors, who have been particularly affected by the violence. Atrocities such as sexual exploitation and abuse, and gender-based violence must halt immediately. Women and children constitute around 80% of the Rohingya refugee population in Bangladesh. In this context and considering the acute protection needs, protection of people must be put at the very centre of the response to the crisis. We also note with concern that the Rohingya refugees are particularly vulnerable as most of them are stateless refugees.

We commend the swift actions so far of the first hand responders, under the leadership of the Government of Bangladesh. Providing aid and assistance in particular in the areas of shelter, infrastructure, WASH and enabling access to basic services is an important lifeline for the Rohingya. However, allow me to emphasise that effective coordination of aid efforts is paramount in such fast-growing and large-scale crises. The coordination efforts must be stepped up and the roles and responsibilities of responders must be clarified in order to respond most efficiently.

Although there are no humanitarian solutions to humanitarian crises, the worsening of the situation and a further humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Bangladesh can be averted through humanitarian assistance. The international community can do more by stepping up their efforts in support of the Rohingya refugees. Estonia is committed to contributing to improving the humanitarian situation of the Rohingya in Bangladesh and has dispersed 50’000 EUR through UNHCR in order to alleviate the alarming needs.

Thank you.


© Permanent Mission of the Republic of Estonia to the United Nations Office and other International Organisations in Geneva Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28A, Geneva
tel. (41 22) 9191 980, e-mail: