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Rohingya - 2017

Myanmar's security forces committed "widespread rape" against Rohingya women and girls as part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the country's Rakhine State, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report 14 Novembwer 2017. But the summit of Southeast Asian leaders in the Philippines failed to make mention of the Burmese military’s campaign of ethnic cleansing that caused the flight of more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh.

On November 13, 2017, a Burmese army “investigation team” issued a report finding that there were “no deaths of innocent people,” while at least 376 “terrorists” were killed during fighting. The Burmese authorities’ failure to credibly and impartially investigate grave violations amounting to crimes against humanity demonstrated the need for the government to allow the United Nations-appointed fact-finding mission into the country to conduct independent investigations.

Rohingya Muslims had been fleeing long-term persecution in Myanmar for decades, but the speed combined with the scale of the September 2017 crisis was unprecedented. United Nations officials describe the outflow as ethnic cleansing. Never before have so many arrived in so short a time.

This exodus started after insurgents from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked police posts on 25 August 2017, killing at least 12 members of the security forces and sparking a brutal crackdown similar to one that occurred in October 2016 after a smaller assault on outposts that initially killed nine officers.

Marixie Mercado, a UNICEF spokesperson, highlighted that refuges had little protection from the elements and lacked drinking water. “There is nowhere near enough latrines, and extreme mosquito activity has been forecast for the coming days. It is important to note that even before the crisis, half of the children in Rakhine state [in Myanmar] had suffered from chronic malnutrition, meaning they were vulnerable to disease,” she said.

On 13 September 2017 United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres reiterated his call for Muslims from Myanmar's Rakhine state to be granted nationality or at least a legal status that would allow them to lead a normal life. “I call on the Myanmar authorities to suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law, and recognize the right of return of all those who had to leave the country,” the Secretary-General said in his first press conference since the opening of the 72nd session of the General Assembly. Guterres repeated his call for “an effective action plan” to address the root causes of the situation, which he said he been left to fester for decades and has now escalated beyond Myanmar's borders, destabilizing the region.

By 15 September 2017 the humanitarian situation in parts of Bangladesh sheltering hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees continued to deteriorate, making the crisis one of the fastest growing refugee crises of recent years. According to estimates, some 400,000 Rohingya refugees, fleeing violence in Myanmar, have crossed the border into Bangladesh since 25 August 2017. Refugees continue to arrive daily outside of the two established camps which are already substantially overflowing, and many people have received little meaningful help to date.

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Page last modified: 01-02-2018 11:33:46 ZULU