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Cate Blanchett: ‘Nothing prepared me for the extent and depth of Rohingya suffering’

  • Published at 09:52 pm August 29th, 2018
Cate Blanchett
Actor Cate Blanchett speaks during a United Nations Security Council meeting about Myanmar at United Nations Headquarters in New York City yesterday

Blanchett requested support for the refugees and Bangladeshi host communities, saying: “We have failed the Rohingya before. Please, let us not fail them again."

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett has advised the United Nations “not to fail the Rohingya again" in an impassioned speech she delivered before the UN Security Council yesterday, saying nothing had prepared her for “the extent and depth of suffering” she saw on her visit to the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.

The Oscar-winning Australian actor said, during her visit to the camps, she heard “gut-wrenching accounts” of torture, rape, people seeing loved ones killed before their eyes, and children thrown into fire and burned alive.

The refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar are currently sheltering more than 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar to escape military persecution. The Rohingya community has been effectively stateless since 1982, when they were denied citizenship by the Myanmar government. 

In the latest episode of Rohingya exodus, Bangladesh has taken in more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees, which Blanchett acknowledged as one of the most “visible and significant gestures of humanity.” 

She told the UN Security Council that many of the surrounding villages near the Rohingya camps have taken extra people into their homes.

The Australian actor also mentioned the birth of stateless Rohingya children in the camps, and expressed concern for the stigma they will carry for the rest of their lives. 

Blanchett requested support for the refugees and Bangladeshi host communities, saying: “We have failed the Rohingya before. Please, let us not fail them again."

The UN Security Council meeting, where Blanchett spoke, commemorated the first anniversary of the Rohingya crisis, which began late August in 2017. She visited the refugee camps in Bangladesh in March this year.