UN urges Bangladesh to open borders for Rohingya

Yeni Safak

More than 8,000 people entered Bangladesh since Thursday after fleeing violence in Myanmar, UN says

The UN on Tuesday urged Bangladesh to open its borders for people fleeing the ongoing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, in a statement on Tuesday said more than 8,700 Rohingya Muslims had fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh since the recent violence.

He described the recent “turn of events” as “deplorable”.

“It was predicted and could have been prevented,” Hussein said. “Decades of persistent and systematic human rights violations, including the very violent security responses to the attacks since October 2016, have almost certainly contributed to the nurturing of violent extremism, with everyone ultimately losing.”

Urging Myanmar to facilitate humanitarian access to Rakhine, he said: “The State has a duty to protect those within its territory — without discrimination.”

“As of Sunday it was estimated that some 5,200 people had entered Bangladesh from Myanmar since Thursday,” the UN refugee agency, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday.

Noting that people fleeing violence were being prevented from entering Bangladesh, Edwards said several thousand people have been waiting to cross the borders in locations along the Myanmar side of the border.

Bangladesh daily The Daily Star reported on Tuesday that thousands had “set up temporary shelter along the Tombru canal near the border point in [Naikhongchari Upazila] of Bandarban [a district in southeastern Bangladesh]”.

The UN refugee agency also condemned the violence in Rakhine.

“We are concerned that the number of people needing help may rise further over the coming days,” Edwards said.

The UNHCR also called on the international community to support Bangladesh in allowing Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence to seek safety.

Noting that access to people in Myanmar in need of help has been “severely restricted”, Edwards said: “We are appealing to Myanmar authorities to do everything possible to facilitate humanitarian help and ensure the safety of our staff.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged Myanmar to grant access to humanitarian agencies following reports of mass civilian casualties following raids by security forces against Rohingya insurgents.

Deadly attacks on border posts in Rakhine state broke out Friday, leaving a soldier, 10 police officers, an immigration official and 77 militants dead.

Later, media reports emerged saying Myanmar security forces used disproportionate force and displaced thousands of Rohingya Muslim villagers, destroying homes with mortars and machine guns.

The region has seen simmering tensions between its Buddhist and Muslim populations since communal violence broke out in 2012.

A UN report last year said there had been human rights violations against Rohingya by the security forces which included crimes against humanity. The UN considers Rohingya to be the one of the most persecuted minority in the world.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings — including those of infants and young children — brutal beatings and disappearances. Rohingya representatives have said approximately 400 people were slain during a security crackdown last October.

Source: Yeni Safak

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