Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Feds Fall Short of Rae Request with $300M Pledge for Rohingya Crisis

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Feds Fall Short of Rae Request with $300M Pledge for Rohingya Crisis

Article excerpt

Feds short of Rae request on Rohingya aid

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OTTAWA - Federal cabinet ministers pledged money and diplomatic leadership on Wednesday as they promised that Canada will spearhead international efforts to stop the campaign of ethnic violence against Myanmar's ethnic Rohingya people.

Yet Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau also found themselves on the defensive as the amount of Canadian aid dollars earmarked for the crisis fell short of expectations.

Bob Rae, Canada's special envoy to Myanmar, called on the government last month to set aside $600 million over the next four years to help the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims affected by the violence.

Freeland and Bibeau, however, announced during a news conference that Canada would contribute $300 million over the next three years, which will go towards emergency assistance as well as education and reproductive health programs.

The ministers admitted their plan amounted to less than Rae had requested, but said it nonetheless represented a significant amount of money and was largely in the spirit of his recommendation.

"We carefully evaluated the situation, the report by Bob Rae and other humanitarian crises that are currently ongoing," Bibeau said in French.

"Canada needs to do its fair share, but also take into consideration that there are several crises happening. The $300 million over three years is a major response."

The money is expected to be channelled through the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and various NGOs and will include a specific focus on helping women and girls, especially those dealing with the aftermath of sexual violence.

The government's plan for this crisis, which Freeland described as a classic case of ethnic cleansing, comes amid mounting concern from foreign-aid and human-rights groups about the fate of the Rohingya.

Freeland promised that Canada would support efforts to hold those responsible to account.

That includes imposing sanctions on those in the Myanmar government and military deemed responsible for atrocities against the Rohingya and supporting any UN Security Council referral to the International Criminal Court. …

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