Myanmar: UN human rights office warns of growing crisis in Rakhine state

Fierce battles have intensified between Myanmar’s military and the Arakan Army, an ethnic armed group, displacing tens of thousands of people in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships in recent days.

An estimated 45,000 Rohingya are believed to have fled to an area on the Naf River near the border with Bangladesh in search of protection. More than a million Rohingya have arrived in the country after fleeing previous purges.

Serious allegations

United Nations Human Rights Office, OHCHRreceived “frightening and disturbing reports” about the impact of the conflict, Spokesperson Liz Throssell said.

“Some of the most serious allegations relate to the killings of Rohingya civilians and the burning of their property,” she told journalists in Geneva.

OHCHR said Buthidaung was largely burned, based on testimony, satellite images and online videos.

Information received indicated that the burning started on May 17 after the army withdrew from the town and the Arakan Army claimed to have taken full control.

Civilians fled Buthidaung

“One survivor described seeing dozens of corpses as he fled the town,” said James Rodehaver, OHCHR Myanmar Team Leader, speaking from Bangkok.

“Another survivor said he was among a group of displaced people, numbering in the tens of thousands, who tried to move out of town to safety along the western road towards Maungdaw. But they were blocked from entering there by the Arakan Army.” direction.”

Survivors reported that the Arakan Army abused them and extorted money from them as they moved to other nearby Rohingya villages, where Rohingya had been displaced by previous attacks and had previously find shelter.

For weeks, Rohingya in these areas have described taking refuge with families they do not know and not having enough to eat.

Shooting, beheading, disappearance

OHCHR documented new attacks against the Rohingya by both the Arakan Army and Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, in the weeks leading up to the burning of Buthidaung.

“Of course, many of these are the result of airstrikes perpetrated by the military as well as other attacks perpetrated by drones or drones,” Mr. Rodehaver said.

“We also received reports of shooting at unarmed villagers who were fleeing. We have confirmed at least four cases of beheadings and many forced disappearances of individuals, as well as several villages and houses that have been burned.”

Risk of expansion

Ms Throssell said OHCHR sees “clear and present risks of a serious increase in violence as the battle for the neighboring town of Maungdaw begins”.

The Myanmar military maintains outposts in the town and a large Rohingya community lives there, including hundreds of Rohingya displaced from villages in search of safety.

Stop the violence

She said the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, had called for an immediate end to the violence and for all civilians to be protected without any distinction based on identity.

“Rapid and unhindered humanitarian relief must be allowed to take place and all parties must fully and unconditionally comply with international law – including measures ordered by the United Nations. country. International Court of Justice (ICJ), to protect the Rohingya,” she added.

International action is needed

Separately, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar warning that “thousands of innocent lives will be lost if the international community does not respond to the ominous signs of another Rohingya bloodbath in Rakhine state.”

In a statement released Thursday, Tom Andrews said “once again, the world seems to be failing desperate people in their hour of danger while an unnatural disaster fueled by hatred taking place in real time in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.”

He added that the information that emerged “more than warrants” an immediate response from the international community.

Mr Andrews called on all parties to comply with international humanitarian law and take every step to protect civilians, regardless of their religion or ethnicity.

A Rohingya refugee from Myanmar receives assistance from the United Nations at Bhasan Char in Bangladesh.

A Rohingya refugee from Myanmar receives assistance from the United Nations at Bhasan Char in Bangladesh.

Support Bangladesh

Recalling that Bangladesh opened its borders to the Rohingya after a crackdown in 2017, thereby saving countless lives, he noted that once again, this generosity may be the country’s only hope. them when faced with forced relocation.

However, he warned that Bangladesh lacks the capacity to meet the needs of this crisis without urgent intervention and support from the international community.

“Ration cuts, inadequate infrastructure, increased violence and reports of forced recruitment by Rohingya militant groups have threatened the lives and welfare of Rohingya refugees,” he said. in Bangladesh”.

He called for “emergency funding” to both support desperate families fleeing conflict and to address the current situation in Rohingya refugee camps.

About the United Nations special rapporteur

The Special Rapporteur is appointed by the UN Eastern Human Rights Associationlocated in Geneva.

These experts monitor and report on country-specific situations or thematic issues worldwide. They are not employees of the United Nations and are not paid for their work.


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