Wednesday 23 May 2018

Rohingya refugees welcome UN team in Bangladesh

The delegation will also visit Burma after concluding its three-day visit on Monday.

Members of the UN Security Council team visiting Bangladesh (AM Ahad/AP)
Members of the UN Security Council team visiting Bangladesh (AM Ahad/AP)

By Julhas Alam, Associated Press

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims have gathered at a camp in Bangladesh to welcome a UNteam that is getting a first-hand look at the plight of refugees who have fled military-led violence in Burma.

The refugees at the Kutupalong camp carried placards, some of which read “We want justice”.

Some 700,000 refugees are seeking UN protection to return home.

The UN team plans to meet some of them, including victims of rape and torture, before continuing to Burma after concluding its three-day visit on Monday.

Representatives from the five permanent Security Council members — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — and 10 non-permanent member states have joined the delegation in the coastal town of Cox’s Bazaar, where the camps are located.

The recent violence in Burma began when Rohingya insurgents staged a series of attacks on August 25 on about 30 security outposts and other targets.

In a subsequent crackdown described by UN and US officials as “ethnic cleansing”, Burma security forces have been accused of rape, killing, torture and the burning of Rohingya homes.

Thousands are believed to have been killed.

Desperate Rohingya refugees have been rejecting Burma’s proposed ID cards, called the national verification cards, saying they want citizenship — something they’ve been denied by the government in the Buddhist majority nation.

Burma authorities consider Rohingya to be Bengali immigrants from Bangladesh, and are even refraining from using the word “Rohingya”, even though the protesting refugees said on Sunday they belong to Burma where they have been living for centuries.

“We are not Bengali, we are Rohingya. They have killed me family members, they tortured us, they will kill us again,” Mohammed Tayab said, standing in front of a tent where he was expecting to meet the UN team.

He said he was shot by Myanmar troops in his right leg and was using a crutch.

“I am here to talk to them, we want justice from them,” he said.

Mr Tayab, 29, said he lost one brother, an uncle and a nephew after Burma soldiers shot them dead.

The UN refugee agency and Bangladesh recently finalised a memorandum of understanding that said the repatriation process must be “safe, voluntary and dignified … in line with international standards”.

Press Association

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News