UN worries about Rohingya refugees’ starvation

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UN envoy says refugees facing 'forced starvation'

United Nations Human Rights official says that Myanmar has not stopped its ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people in Rakhine State.

The UN envoy’s assessment of a continued “campaign of terror and forced starvation” comes six months after a military crackdown caused a mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims.

Some 700,000 people have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since August.

They have since told of murder, rape and arson by soldiers and vigilantes.

Myanmar’s military says it is fighting Rohingya militants and denies targeting civilians in Rakhine State.

“The ethnic cleansing of Rohingya from Myanmar continues,” said the UN’s assistant secretary-general for human rights, Andrew Gilmour.

“I don’t think we can draw any other conclusion from what I have seen and heard in Cox’s Bazar,” he stated, referring to a district in southern Bangladesh which is home to most of the refugees.

“The nature of the violence has changed from the frenzied blood-letting and mass rape of last year to a lower intensity campaign of terror and forced starvation,” Mr Gilmour said after speaking with recently arrived Rohingya in packed refugee camps..

Bangladesh and Myanmar authorities had been in talks over repatriating refugees in the coming months but a build-up of Myanmar military on the border last week sparked concern.

The UN envoy said it was “inconceivable” for any Rohingya to return to Rakhine State in the near future in a “safe, dignified and sustainable” way.

“The government of Myanmar is busy telling the world that it is ready to receive Rohingya returnees, while at the same time its forces are continuing to drive them into Bangladesh,” Mr Gilmour said.

BBC/Sammie