Rohingya demand justice as United Nations delegation visits Bangladesh camps

Myanmar has faced intense worldwide pressure over the military clampdown against the Rohingya launched last August that the United Nations has called "ethnic cleansing".

The UN team will meet Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has come under global criticism for backing the ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya. In doing so, they are facing up to one of the U.N.'s most significant failures of recent years.

United Nations and USA officials have described the crackdown on the Rohingyas, which began in August previous year, as "ethnic cleansing".

The UN delegation will speak to and conduct face-to-face interviews with the refugees in Bangladesh before they head to Myanmar to visit Rakhine, the state where the Rohingya lived before violence intensified against them.

Russia's ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, told reporters that the diplomats would not look away from the crisis, but added that finding a solution would be no easy task.

The UNSC team comprising of delegates from five permanent members China, France, Russia, UK and the U.S., and 10 other non-permanent members visited the Kutupalong refugee camp at Tombru border in Bandarban's Naikhyangchhari to assess the plight of the refugees there, as reported by the Daily Star. "We're very much eager to go back to our land, provided our security is ensured by the UN", Mohammad told AFP.

Tearful women and girls threw themselves into the arms of British UN Ambassador Karen Pierce, sharing stories of gang rape and murder they endured at the hands of Burma's military in Rakhine State.

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar, that doesn't recognize them as equal citizens, in the last few months to escape violence.

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Myanmar has faced intense worldwide pressure over its clampdown on the Rohingya.

In November, Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed on a bilateral deal to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Rohingya.

The Tatmadaw - another name for Burma's military - has denied accusations of genocide and ethnic cleansing, maintaining it is carrying out legitimate response to attacks by "terrorist" Rohingya rebel groups.

Myanmar has said the military operation in Rakhine was to root out extremists and has rejected almost all allegations that its security forces committed atrocities.

It is unlikely to lead to any stronger council action against Burma as allies China and Russian Federation, who each carry veto power on the council, are expected to resist any tougher measures, such as sanctions or the referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court.

Kuwait's Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi said the visit was not about "naming and shaming" Myanmar, but that "the message will be very clear for them: the worldwide community is following the situation and has great interest in resolving it".

The Kuwaiti diplomat said the Security Council would "try to explore ways and means to speed up implementation of the (repatriation accord) signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar for safe, free, voluntary and dignified return of the refugees".

  • Megan Austin