Of­fi­cial barred from con­flict zone

Sunday News - - WORLD -

YAN­GON Myan­mar says a vis­it­ing United States of­fi­cial will not be al­lowed to go to a re­gion where vi­o­lence has trig­gered an ex­o­dus of nearly 400,000 Ro­hingya Mus­lims that the United Na­tions has branded a ‘‘text­book ex­am­ple of eth­nic cleans­ing’’.

The Ro­hingya have fled from western Rakhine state to neigh­bour­ing Bangladesh to es­cape a mil­i­tary of­fen­sive that has raised ques­tions about Myan­mar’s tran­si­tion to civil­ian rule un­der the lead­er­ship of No­bel lau­re­ate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Dur­ing his visit to Myan­mar, US Deputy As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State Patrick Mur­phy would voice Wash­ing­ton’s con­cerns about the Ro­hingya and press for greater ac­cess to the con­flict area for hu­man­i­tar­ian work­ers, the US State Depart­ment said.

Myan­mar of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day Mur­phy would meet govern­ment lead­ers in the cap­i­tal, Naypy­itaw, and at­tend an ad­dress GETTY IM­AGES to the na­tion by Suu Kyi on Tues­day.

He would also visit Sit­twe, the state cap­i­tal, and meet the gov­er­nor of Rakhine, the state govern­ment sec­re­tary, Tin Maung Swe, said, but the north of the state, where the con­flict erupted on Au­gust 25, would be off lim­its.

‘‘Not al­lowed,’’ Tin Maung Swe said when asked if Mur­phy would be go­ing to Maung­daw dis­trict, at the heart of the strife that be­gan when Ro­hingya in­sur­gents at­tacked po­lice posts and an army camp, killing a dozen peo­ple.

While nearly 400,000 refugees have poured across the bor­der into Bangladesh, fears have also been grow­ing of a hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis on the Myan­mar side, but ac­cess for aid work­ers and re­porters has been se­verely re­stricted.

Myan­mar in­sisted yes­ter­day it was not bar­ring aid work­ers but a govern­ment spokesman said au­thor­i­ties might have con­cerns over se­cu­rity.

Rights mon­i­tors and flee­ing Ro­hingya say the army and Rakhine Bud­dhist vig­i­lantes have mounted a cam­paign of ar­son aimed at driv­ing out the Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion. Reuters

Des­per­ate Ro­hingya refugees reach for hand­outs of cloth­ing and food at an aid cen­tre in Tankhali, Bangladesh.

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