UN raps Myanmar’s denial of access to Muslims
UN expresses concern over ongoing exodus of Muslims from Myanmar and slams the country’s refusal to grant humanitarian access to Rakhine State.
Publish date : Saturday 7 October 2017 12:18
“This flow out of Myanmar has not stopped yet, it’s into the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya (who are) still in Myanmar, we want to be ready in case there is a further exodus,” said the UN’s under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, Mark Lowcock, in a Friday press briefing in Geneva.
“Half a million people do not pick up sticks and flee their country on a whim,” he said, reiterating the world body’s appeal for access to the widely-displaced population in Rakhine and saying the existing circumstances are “unacceptable.”
“The access we have in northern Rakhine State is unacceptable,” Lowcock added after a small team of UN staff visited the majority-Buddhist Myanmar in recent days and described witnessing “unimaginable” suffering.
Myanmarese authorities, led by de facto leader and Noble peace prize winner Aug San Suu Kyi, have been tightly controlling access to the state since last month when purported attacks by Rohingya militants prompted a brutal military response that has forced over 515,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh.
The violence, backed by radical Buddhist monks, has left scores of Rohingya villages torched and completely destroyed.
Lowcock said that he believed “a high level” UN team would be able to visit the area “in the next few days,” without elaborating, repeating UN’s demands for Myanmar to allow “unhindered (and) unfettered” access to the state.
He further said the UN had “substantial capacity” in Myanmar, which can be swiftly deployed to northern Rakhine once clearance is granted by local authorities.
Rohingya-majority Rakhine has been emptied of half of its Muslim population over the past weeks and more people are on the move as unspeakable acts of violence continue against the Rohingya.
Many witnesses and rights groups have reported systematic attacks, including rape, murder and arson, at the hands of the army and Buddhist mobs against Rohingya Muslims.
The UN has described the government-sanctioned crackdown on Rohingya as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”