Ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas continues in Myanmar, says top United Nations official

Glen Norman
March 9, 2018

Echoing the sentiments of other UN officials, Western governments and humanitarian agencies, Gilmour thanked the poor nation of Bangladesh for its generosity in hosting the huge population of Rohingya refugees.

"The ethnic cleansing of Rohingya from Myanmar continues, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour said after speaking to newly-arrived Rohingya in refugee camps in Bangladesh".

"I don't think we can draw any other conclusion from what I have seen and heard in Cox's Bazar", Gilmour said in a statement.

Myanmar's military claims its crackdown on Rohingya villages is aimed at eradicating "terrorists", who allegedly attacked border police posts in August 2017.

A Rakhine leader facing treason charges linked to deadly riots appeared in a Myanmar court on Wednesday, a case that has aggravated ethnic tensions in Rakhine State.

Myanmar's government must take steps to provide real accountability for violations and respect the rights of Rohingya, including to citizenship, Zeid said.

The rate of killings and sexual violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State has subsided, he said.

"It appears that widespread and systematic violence against the Rohingya persists, " Gilmour said after visiting refugee camps in Bangladesh.

"Safe, dignified, and sustainable returns are of course impossible under current conditions". The Myanmar military's oppression was described as "ethnic cleansing" by the UN.

Living conditions for refugees remain extremely hard despite a growing worldwide response, but the United Nations refugee agency said the threat from elephants had emerged as a new concern.

Earlier this year in February, the Centre had responded to a plea which alleged that Rohingya refugees who wanted to enter India after fleeing persecution in Myanmar were being "pushed back" at the border by the BSF in violation of the United Nations principle of non-refoulement.

Myanmar's government denies such abuses and announced in January that it was ready to accept the refugees back.

Residents of what is called "no-man's land", as it sits outside Myanmar's border fence but on its side of a creek that separates the two countries, say Myanmar officials have warned them on loudspeakers that their presence on the border line is illegal.

"These people have fled violence at home and must be able to seek asylum in Bangladesh if they feel unsafe where they are", she said. "There are about 40 elephants in the area and they move between Bangladesh and Myanmar in search of food", the Geneva-based agency said in a statement.

Bangladesh last week protested to Myanmar's ambassador in Dhaka after Myanmar security personnel, estimated to number more than 200, gathered near the border.

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