UN ap­peals for ‘mas­sive’ help for Ro­hingya Mus­lim refugees

Business Day - - INTERNATIONAL | AUCTIONS - Ser­a­jul Quadir and Wa Lone Dhaka/Yangon

The UN ap­pealed on Thurs­day for mas­sive help for nearly 400,000 Mus­lims from Myan­mar who have fled to Bangladesh, with con­cern grow­ing that the num­ber could keep ris­ing, un­less Myan­mar ends what crit­ics have been de­nounc­ing as “eth­nic cleans­ing”.

The Ro­hingya are flee­ing from a Myan­mar mil­i­tary of­fen­sive in the western state of Rakhine that was trig­gered by a se­ries of guer­rilla at­tacks on Au­gust 25 on se­cu­rity posts and an army camp in which about a dozen peo­ple were killed.

“We urge the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to step up hu­man­i­tar­ian sup­port and come up with help,” Mo­hammed Ab­diker, di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions and emer­gen­cies for the UN’s In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Mi­gra­tion, said in the Bangladeshi cap­i­tal of Dhaka. The need was “mas­sive”, he added.

The vi­o­lence in Rakhine and the ex­o­dus of refugees is the most press­ing prob­lem No­bel Peace lau­re­ate Aung San Suu Kyi has faced since be­com­ing na­tional leader in 2016.

UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res and the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil on Wed­nes­day urged Myan­mar to end the vi­o­lence, which he said was best de­scribed as eth­nic cleans­ing.

Bud­dhist-ma­jor­ity Myan­mar’s gov­ern­ment re­jects such ac­cu­sa­tions, say­ing it is only tar­get­ing “ter­ror­ists”.

Nu­mer­ous Ro­hingya vil­lages in the north of Rakhine have been torched, but gov­ern­men­tal au­thor­i­ties have de­nied that se­cu­rity forces or Bud­dhist civil­ians set the fires.

They blame the in­sur­gents, and say 30,000 non-Mus­lim vil­lagers were also dis­placed.

Smoke was ris­ing from at least five places on the Myan­mar side of the bor­der on Thurs­day, a Reuters reporter in Bangladesh said. It was not clear what was burn­ing or who had set the fires.

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