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UN warns of 'ethnic cleansing' of Myanmar's Muslims

AFP  |  Cox's Bazar (Bangladesh) 

The situation in Myanmar is a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing", the United Nations said today, as the number of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar for topped 300,000.

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


But since the latest upsurge in violence on August 25, hundreds of thousands have flooded across the border into bringing stories of entire villages burned to the ground by Buddhist mobs and Myanmar troops.

Today the UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein accused Myanmar of waging a "systematic attack" on the Rohingya 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," he told the UN Human Rights Council.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate, has come in for strong international criticism over the military crackdown on the Rohingya, which began when militants ambushed security forces on August 25.

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.

A further 27,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists as well as Hindus have also fled violence that has gripped northern Rakhine, where international aid programmes in Rakhine have been severely curtailed.

Fellow Nobel peace laureates Malala Yousafzai and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have urged Suu Kyi to intervene.

The UN refugee agency says at least 313,000 Rohingya have now arrived in from Myanmar's Rakhine state since August 25, around a third of the total population of 1.1 million.

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

Dhaka initially stepped up border controls after the violence, stranding thousands of refugees at the Bangladeshi frontier, but in the last week has been allowing them to enter.

Refugee camps and makeshift settlements near the border with Myanmar, which already hosted hundreds of thousands of Rohingya before the latest upsurge in violence, are now completely overwhelmed.

That has left tens of thousands of new arrivals with nowhere to shelter from the monsoon rains.

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

The UN's Zeid said he was "appalled" by reports that Myanmar security forces were laying mines near the border to stop the Rohingya returning.

Three Rohingya are reported to have been killed by a mine, and at least two more have lost limbs. One of the victims was a young boy.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, September 11 2017. 18:02 IST
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