UN appeals for ‘massive’ help for Rohingya Muslim refugees
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.