UN seeks ‘massive’ help for Rohingya 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 denounce 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.
The UN has called for a massive intensification of relief operations to help the refugees.
“We urge the international community to step up humanitarian support and come up with help,” Mohammed Abdiker, director of operations and emergencies for the International Organization for Migration, told a news conference in the Bangladeshi capital.
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 last year.
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.
The government of Myanmar rejects such accusations, saying it is targeting “terrorists.”
Numerous Rohingya villages in the north of Rakhine have been torched but authorities have denied that security forces or Buddhist civilians set the fires.
“Ethnic cleansing” is not recognized as an independent crime under international law, the UN Office on Genocide Prevention says, but it has been used in UN resolutions and acknowledged in judgments and indictments of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
A Rohingya Muslim woman, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, shouts for help as her relative lies unconscious on the shore of Bay of Bangal after the boat she was in capsized at Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh, on Thursday.