Premier re­jects calls for ref­er­en­dum talks

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the coun­try’s courts and a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into three out of four Cata­lan may­ors ac­tively sup­port­ing it.

In the let­ter, Cata­lan pres­i­dent Car­les Puigde­mont and Barcelona mayor Ada Co­lau also say Spain has launched “an of­fen­sive of re­pres­sion with­out prece­dent”.

Mean­while, Spain’s fi­nance min­is­ter has said the cen­tral gov­ern­ment has de­cided to take over pay­ments of es­sen­tial ser­vices in Cat­alo­nia.

Cris­to­bal Mon­toro said the gov­ern­ment is also giv­ing of­fi­cials in Cat­alo­nia 48 hours to com­ply with a new sys­tem to scru­ti­nise pub­lic pay­ments to en­sure no pub­lic funds are be­ing used on the il­le­gal vote.

Mr Mon­toro’s min­istry or­dered re­gional au­thor­i­ties in July to send weekly spend­ing re­ports, but Cata­lan vice pres­i­dent Oriol Jun­queras, who is in charge of econ-omic af­fairs, has said he would stop pro­vid­ing them be­cause scru­tiny was po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated. ABOUT 240,000 chil­dren have fled Burma’s

Rakhine state into neigh­bour­ing Bangladesh over the last three weeks, ac­cord­ing to a UN agency.

The fig­ure – amount­ing to about 60 per cent of an es­ti­mated 391,000 Ro­hingya refugees – in­cludes about 36,000 chil­dren un­der a year old, said Unicef spokes­woman Mar­ixie Mer­cado.

She added the chil­dren’s agency also es­ti­mates about 52,000 preg­nant women.

Ms Mer­cado said the fig­ures in­clude about 1,100 un­ac­com­pa­nied mi­nors who have crossed over the past week.

She spoke at a reg­u­lar brief­ing in Geneva that in­cluded com­ments from many UN agen­cies ad­dress­ing the cri­sis in Bangladesh.

Ms Mer­cado said: “As ev­ery­body here is go­ing to tell you, the needs are seem­ingly end­less and the

Ro­hingya Mus­lims carry food items to a refugee camp.

suf­fer­ing is deep­en­ing.”

A Ro­hingya in­sur­gent group at­tacked po­lice posts in Rakhine on Au­gust 25, and the Burmese mil­i­tary re­sponded with “clear­ance oper­a­tions”.

Flee­ing Ro­hingya say se­cu­rity forces shot in­dis­crim­i­nately, burned their homes and threat­ened them with death. The gov­ern­ment says hun­dreds died, mostly Ro­hingya, and that 176 out

of 471 Ro­hingya vil­lages have been aban­doned.

With refugee camps over­flow­ing and hun­dreds of thou­sands of Ro­hingya strug­gling to find shel­ter, food and other es­sen­tial ser­vices, aid work­ers say they are deeply wor­ried by the con­tin­u­ing in­flux of peo­ple by land and wa­ter.

UN agen­cies fear con­tin­ued vi­o­lence in Burma may even­tu­ally drive up to a mil­lion Ro­hingya into Bangladesh.

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