Date
15 December 2017
Smoke is seen coming from a village in Myanmar as an exhausted Rohingya woman is carried to the shore after refugees crossed the Bay of Bengal by boat to reach Bangladesh on Monday. Photo: Reuters
Smoke is seen coming from a village in Myanmar as an exhausted Rohingya woman is carried to the shore after refugees crossed the Bay of Bengal by boat to reach Bangladesh on Monday. Photo: Reuters

UN sees ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Myanmar as Rohingya crisis deepens

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said the situation in Myanmar is a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” as more than 300,000 Rohingya Muslims fled for Bangladesh to escape the violence, Agence France-Presse reports.

The UN Security Council will meet on Wednesday to discuss the crisis.

Refugees fleeing the unrest have brought stories of entire villages burned to the ground by Buddhist mobs and Myanmar troops, the news agency said.

Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace prize laureate, has faced strong international criticism over an army crackdown on the Muslim minority, which began when Rohingya militants ambushed security forces in Rakhine State on Aug. 25.

On Monday Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN human rights chief, accused Myanmar of waging a “systematic attack” on Rohingya civilians and warned that “ethnic cleansing” seemed to be under way.

“Because Myanmar has refused access to human rights investigators the current situation cannot yet be fully assessed, but the situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” Al Hussein was quoted as saying before the UN Human Rights Council.

The stateless Rohingya have faced decades of persecution in Myanmar, where they are regarded as illegal immigrants.

The White House broke its silence on the crisis on Monday, saying it was “deeply troubled” by attacks by both sides, including the militant ambushes in Rakhine.

We “reiterate our condemnation of those attacks and ensuing violence”, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, without directly accusing the Myanmar military of carrying out a crackdown.

The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has said the latest violence may have left more than 1,000 dead, most of them Rohingya.

The UN refugee agency says at least 313,000 Rohingya have now arrived in Bangladesh from Rakhine State since Aug. 25, about a third of the total population of 1.1 million.

The actual figure could be even higher: The UN said many new arrivals are still on the move and are therefore left out of the calculations.

Most have walked for days, and the UN says many are sick, exhausted and in desperate need of shelter, food and water.

Refugee camps and makeshift settlements near the border with Myanmar were already hosting hundreds of thousands of Rohingya before the latest influx, and are now completely overwhelmed, AFP said.

That has left tens of thousands of new arrivals with no shelter from the monsoon rains, the report said.

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CG

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