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Women’s Refugee Commission Welcomes Listing of Myanmar Armed Forces in New UN Secretary-General’s Report on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

New York, NY – The United Nations Security Council today held its annual open debate on conflict-related sexual violence. The debate was presided by Peru, which holds the Council’s presidency for April. UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed presented the Secretary-General’s annual report on conflict-related sexual violence.

In a historic first, the report includes the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) in its annex, which lists parties credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape or other forms of sexual violence in armed conflict. While abuses by the military against ethnic minorities, including Karen, Kachin, Rohingya, and Shan, have been well documented for decades by human rights groups, previous reports have not included the military in this section of the report.

In response to the listing, Joan Timoney, senior director of advocacy and external relations at the Women’s Refugee Commission, issued the following statement:

“The brutality of violence against the Rohingya, particularly against women and girls, has received global attention and yet, so far, perpetrators have not faced any consequences. The listing of the Tatmadaw is an overdue and welcome step. Impunity, discrimination, and denial of citizenship lie at the heart of the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.

“As long as Rohingya fear for their lives and are persecuted, a safe, voluntary, and dignified return remains a dangerous option. We further have to ensure that those fleeing are safe from gender-based violence, trafficking, or forced marriage and that they receive adequate services. In this respect, we also welcome the Secretary-General’s call to recognize conflict-related sexual violence as a form of persecution that may serve as grounds for asylum and refugee status, and to address funding shortfalls for sexual and gender-based violence programming and sexual and reproductive healthcare.”