UN chief hears of ‘unimaginable’ atrocities as he visits Rohingya camps
KUTUPALONG – Agence France-Presse
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he heard “unimaginable” accounts of atrocities during a visit Monday to vast camps in Bangladesh that are home to a million Rohingya refugees who fled violence in Myanmar.
Guterres described the situation for the persecuted Muslim minority as “a humanitarian and human rights nightmare,” as he prepared to tour makeshift shelters crammed with people who escaped a huge Myanmar army operation last year that the U.N. has likened to ethnic cleansing. “In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, I’ve just heard unimaginable accounts of killing and rape from Rohingya refugees who recently fled Myanmar. They want justice and a safe return home,” Guterres said on Twitter on July 2.
Accompanied by the head of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, he called it a “mission of solidarity with Rohingya refugees and the communities supporting them. The compassion & generosity of the Bangladeshi people shows the best of humanity and saved many thousands of lives.”
The bulk of the Rohingya in Bangladesh, or some 700,000 people, flooded across the border last August to escape the violence.
A U.N. Security Council delegation visited Myanmar and Rakhine state in early May, meeting refugees who gave detailed accounts of killings, rape and villages torched at the hands of Myanmar’s military.
Myanmar has vehemently denied allegations by the United States, the U.N. and others of ethnic cleansing.
Fewer than 200 have been resettled, and the vast majority refuse to contemplate returning until their rights, citizenship and safety are assured.
The United Nations has said however that conditions in the persecuted minority’s home state of Rakhine in western Myanmar are not conducive for the refugees’ safe, voluntary and dignified repatriation.