End nightmare, UN chief tells Myanmar govt
cox’s bazar (Bangladesh) — UN chief Antonio Guterres exhorted Myanmar’s leaders to end the “nightmare” faced by Rohingya refugees fleeing an army campaign, after at least 23 people drowned with scores more feared dead when a boat carrying Rohingya families capsized off Bangladesh.
Over a million Rohingya have poured into Bangladesh, fleeing a vicious military crackdown on rebels that has gutted villages across the Rakhine state. —
cox’s bazar — More than 60 Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar are believed to have drowned when their boat capsized, the latest victims in what the United Nations says is the world’s fastest-developing refugee emergency.
The refugees drowned in heavy seas off Bangladesh late on Thursday, part of a new surge of people fleeing a Myanmar military campaign that began on August 25 and has triggered an exodus of more than half a million people.
International anger with Myanmar over the crisis is growing.
In New York, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called on countries to suspend providing weapons to Myanmar over the violence. It was the first time the United States had called for punishment of Myanmar’s military, but she stopped short of threatening to reimpose US sanctions which were suspended under the Obama administration.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar rejects accusations of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and has denounced rights abuses.
Its military launched a big offensive in response to coordinated attacks on the security forces by Rohingya insurgents in the north of Rakhine State on Aug. 25.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council the violence had spiralled into the “world’s fastest-developing refugee emergency, a humanitarian and human rights nightmare”.
and it should shame senior burmese leaders who have sacrificed so much for an open, democratic burma.” Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations
at one point, he (the captain) chose to anchor the vessel, but that proved to be a fatal mistake as the rough seas were much worse than expected.” Joel Millman, International Organization for Migration
Colonel Anisul Haque, head of the Bangladeshi border guards in the town of Teknaf, said more refugees had arrived over the past day or two after the number had seemed to be tailing off, with about 1,000 people landing at the main arrival point on the coast on Thursday.
Aid groups now say 502,000 refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since late August.
The refugee boat that capsized went over as darkness fell, in driving wind and rain and high seas.
An official with the International Organisation for Migration said 23 people were confirmed dead and 40 were missing. Seventeen survived.
“We’re now saying 40 missing, which suggests the total fatality rate will be in the range of 63,” the official, Joe Millman, told a news briefing in Geneva. One survivor, Abdul Kalam, 55, said: “My wife, two daughters and a grandson were among the dead.”
Kalam said villagers had been summoned to a military office and told there were no such people as Rohingya in Myanmar. After that he decided to leave and headed to the coast with his family.
A spokesman for the UN refugee agency said a fifth of new arrivals were suffering from acute malnutrition.
The Bangladeshi Red Crescent said its mobile clinics were treating an increasing number of people with acute watery diarrhoea. The World Health Organisation has said one of the diseases it is particularly worried about is cholera.
In a sharp ramping up of the pressure on Myanmar, also known as Burma, Haley echoed UN accusations that the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in Rakhine State was ethnic cleansing.
Speaking at a United Nations Security Council meeting, Haley pressed for members of Myanmar’s military to face action from the global body in response to the violence and expressed sharp criticism of the civilian government.
“We cannot be afraid to call the actions of the Burmese authorities what they appear to be: a brutal, sustained campaign to cleanse the country of an ethnic minority,” said Haley. “And it should shame senior Burmese leaders who have sacrificed so much for an open, democratic Burma,” she added, using an alternative name for Myanmar. — Reuters, AFP
Nur Fatema, a survivor, touches the face of her nine-month old son, who died after a boat with Rohingya refugees capsized as they were fleeing Myanmar. The bodies of victims were taken for the mass funeral just behind Inani Beach, near Cox’s Bazar, on Friday. —
A boy is pulled to safety as Rohingya refugees scuffle while queueing for aid at Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. —