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Rohingya, Venezuela added to Canada's G7 agenda

Rohingya, Venezuela added to Canada's G7 agenda
From CBC - April 16, 2018

Canada is expanding the focus of the upcoming G7 foreign ministers meeting to include the plight of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar for Bangladesh and the democratic backslide in Venezuela.

Those items are being added to the "perennial" international security issues the G7 usually confronts, such as Syria, Ukraine and Iran, Peter Boehm, Canada's chief summit organizer, said Monday.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has said Canada wants to use the G7 to leverage the recommendations in the recently completed report by its special envoy Bob Rae, who called for the perpetrators of violence against the Rohingya to be brought to justice.

The Rohingya issue has particular relevance because it dovetails with the summit's theme of promoting gender equality and women's empowerment, Freeland told a recent summit-related event at the University of Toronto.

"It is very important to make the gender perspective a key part of everything that we do, and we talk about," Freeland said.

"Gender is a central part of so many of the issues that we are grappling with."

Freeland said she recently hosted a roundtable on the Rohingya violence, where she heard repeated stories of gender-based violence and rape being used as a weapon of war on women and girls fleeing Myanmar.

Such chronic problems are being exacerbated by the fact that many young girls are arriving as orphans at refugee camps in Bangladesh, where they continue to be vulnerable, she said.

A coalition of advocates for the Rohingya crisisincluding Rae, former Liberal foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy, human rights groups and aid agenciesis calling on Canada to use its G7 presidency to highlight the crisis, which has forced 688,000 Myanmar Rohingyas, mainly women and children, into exile in neighbouring Bangladesh.

Venezuela and Syria also on agenda

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