Ottawa announced Friday that it will provide $2.5 million in aid to Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority fleeing Myanmar amid persecution.
Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau announced in a press release that the funding will be directed to help women and children displaced by the conflict, as part of the country’s Feminist International Assistance Policy.
READ MORE: Why the Rohingya minority Muslim group is fleeing Myanmar
“The support Canada is announcing today will help partners provide life-saving assistance to people fleeing violence,” Bibeau said in the release. “It will focus on sexual and reproductive health needs and help women and girls who have faced sexual and gender-based violence.”
In 2017, Canada has provided a total of $6.63 million in humanitarian aid to those affected by the conflicts in Myanmar and Bangladesh. The latest batch of funding will go toward Rohingya Muslims, to provide therapeutic feeding for pregnant women and young children, clinical care for those who experience sexual violence, emergency newborn care, and help create child-friendly spaces.
The funds will be handled by the United Nations, UNICEF and the World Food Programme.
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The minister renewed calls by the Trudeau government for Myanmar to stop the assault on villages in Rakhine state, where the Rohingya population lives. More than 375,000 have fled into Bangladesh since late August, amid violence the United Nations has described as “ethnic cleansing.”
READ MORE: Satellite photos show ‘systematic burning’ of Rohingya villages in Myanmar
“We also urge the authorities in Myanmar to take measures to protect all civilians from the ongoing violence, and we call for the full, unimpeded resumption of humanitarian assistance activities for UN and international humanitarian organizations in Myanmar.”
The decision comes amid calls for Canada to take a stronger stance against the violence in the country, whose leader Aung San Suu Kyi is an honorary Canadian citizen.
READ MORE: Canada urged to revoke Myanmar leader’s honorary citizenship amid Rohingya crisis
Last week, an online petition calling for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to revoke the citizenship surfaced, arguing that Suu Kyi no longer deserves the recognition she once received while standing up for freedom and democracy.
While the government has side-stepped questions regarding her citizenship, it has condemned the violence and urged Myanmar’s leader to protect the minority group.
WATCH: Justin Trudeau refuses to criticize Myanmar leader amid crisis
On Wednesday, Trudeau spoke with Suu Kyi over the phone to express his concerns and call for an end to the violence. He made similar statements during a press conference in Ottawa last week.
“When Aung San Suu Kyi was in Ottawa, I expressed our deep concern for the situation the Rohingya were in then, and we continue to put pressure on the Myanmar government and all authorities to take concrete action to de-escalate this terrible conflict,” he said at the time.
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Additional calls for a de-escalation of the conflict have been made by several Liberal cabinet ministers, as well as prominent world leaders.
The Myanmar leader has so far remained relatively mum on the situation but has claimed so-called fake news is exaggerating the violence.
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