Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Violence displaces 87,000 Rohingya in Myanmar: UN

Some 21,000 internally displaced while 66,000 have fled to Bangladesh since October attacks, security ops, report says

At least 87,000 people have been displaced since the military launched a crackdown in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state early October, United Nations said Monday.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in a weekly report that at least 21,000 people are estimated to be internally displaced in the northern part of Rakhine State as a result of the October 9 attacks and security operations.

"This is in addition to the 66,000 people estimated to have crossed into Bangladesh," said the UN relief agency.

"Although humanitarian activities have been able to resume in many areas of northern Rakhine, the Government is still not permitting international staff to travel outside the main centres," it added.

Since Oct. 9, aid agencies and independent journalists have been denied access to majority Rohingya areas and at least 104 people -- 17 police and soldiers, 11 Muslim men working closely with the local authorities and 76 alleged “attackers”, including six who reportedly died during interrogation -- have been killed and more than 600 people arrested.

However, Rohingya advocacy groups claim around 400 Rohingya -- described by the UN as among the world’s most persecuted groups -- were killed in military operations, women were raped and more than 1,000 Rohingya villages torched.

A 1982 law denies Rohingya -- many of whom have lived in Myanmar for generations -- citizenship, making them stateless. It also removes freedom of movement, access to education and services and allows arbitrary confiscation of property.

The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, on Friday said the armed insurgency in Rakhine state was due to the decades of institutionalized discrimination against the Rohingya.

According to a report by the International Crisis Group last month, the October attacks were masterminded by a Saudi-backed group called Harakah al-Yaqin, which has spent years recruiting and training fighters in Bangladesh and northern Rakhine following sectarian violence in 2012 between Rohingya and Buddhists.

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