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United Nations slams Myanmar's denial of access to Rakhine

07 October 2017

"The Rohingya have faced decades of persecution and targeted violence in Myanmar, but the recent attacks that began just over a month ago are of an entirely new scale and level of inhumanity", Refugees International President Eric Schwartz.

Speaking at a press conference near the United Nations office in Geneva, humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said the lack of access in Myanmar was "unacceptable".

An estimated 2,000 refugees are still arriving in Bangladesh every day, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

"India and the European Union expressed deep concern at the recent spate of violence in the Rakhine state of Myanmar that has resulted in the outflow of a large number of people from the state, many of whom have sought shelter in neighbouring Bangladesh", the joint statement said.

Access to much of the area has been blocked by Myanmar authorities.

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Aid agencies have warned of a malnutrition crisis with about 281,000 people in Bangladesh in urgent need of food, including 145,000 children under five and more than 50,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Mr. Lowcock said he believed a "a high-level" United Nations team would be able to visit the area "in the next few days".

"We planned to administer them with 900,000 doses of oral cholera vaccines", Ukhiya upazila's Health and Family Planning Officer and Vaccination Programme's Coordinator Dr Mizbah Uddin Ahmed told BSS.

On reports of mass graves of Hindus found in the violence-hit region, Haque said, "This is part of ethnic cleansing".

The exodus from Myanmar to Bangladesh started in late August, when Rohingya militants attacked police posts in Rakhine, triggering a major security operation by the government of the Buddhist-majority country.

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Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's leader, was criticised for not doing more to intervene - but has since spoken out against any human rights abuses.

Under that agreement almost a quarter of a million people were repatriated from Bangladesh to Myanmar between the early 1990s and 2005, he said.

STRESSING THAT he has not seen any sign of radicalisation among Rohingya refugees, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque Friday said that he would not comment on India's move to deport them but hoped that "in the end... humanitarian issues will get due consideration".

Lowcock said talks between Myanmar and Bangladesh on a repatriation plan were a useful first step.

"We don't want to take actions that exacerbate their suffering".

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United Nations slams Myanmar's denial of access to Rakhine