'Ethnic cleansing' of Myanmar's Rohingya continues

Hannah Rogers
March 9, 2018

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said that he strongly suspected that "acts of genocide" may have taken place against Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state since August.

Gilmour also pointed out that the Bangladeshi and worldwide humanitarian response to the Rohingya crisis has been very impressive but that the rainy season threatens to have a devastating effect on refugee camps.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has said the scorched-earth operation, which has left hundreds of villages burned to ash in northern Rakhine state, amounts to ethnic cleansing.

Last week, Myanmar's army deployed additional security forces to the border with Bangladesh, with the apparent aim of driving about 6,000 Rohingya refugees staying in a no man's land into Bangladeshi territory.

His statement also said it was "inconceivable" that any Rohingya would be able to return to Myanmar in the near future, despite its pledges to start taking back some refugees.

"The Government of Myanmar is busy telling the world that it is ready to receive Rohingya returnees, while at the same time its forces are continuing to drive them into Bangladesh", Gilmour said adding:"Safe, dignified and sustainable returns are of course impossible under current conditions".

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Around 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar to Bangladesh since August, when Myanmar security forces began sweeps though Rakhine state following Rohingya insurgent attacks.

Recently-arrived Rohingya reported credible accounts of continued violence against their people, including killings, rape, and forced starvation, Gilmour reported.

"The conversation now must focus on stopping the violence in Rakhine state, ensuring accountability for the perpetrators, and the need for Myanmar to create conditions for return", said Gilmour.

Living conditions for refugees remain extremely hard despite a growing worldwide response, but the United Nations refugee agency said the threat from elephants had emerged as a new concern.

Members of the ethnic Rakhine Buddhist population are accused of assisting the military in a campaign of murder, rape, and arson against the Rohingya - violence the United Nations brands "ethnic cleansing".

"UNHCR is urging the authorities to ensure the safety of the group now in no man's land", UNHCR spokeswoman Vivian Tan said Tuesday. "The first reason is that Burma will only take a few and secondly is that the refugees will never return if they fear persecution", he added, using another name for Myanmar. "We've asked Myanmar for humanitarian access in order to help people like them and others affected by the recent violence". Reuters uncovered the massacre and has pieced together how it unfolded.

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