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UN focuses on Myanmar amid Rohingya plight

A Rohingya Muslim woman and her family members, who had tried to cross into Bangladesh to escape communal violence in Myanmar, cry in a coast guard station in southern Bangladesh on June 19, 2012, before being sent back to Myanmar.

Amid Myanmar’s plans to eject its Rohingya Muslim minority, which the United Nations calls one of the world’s most-prosecuted people, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says it will help the internally-displaced in the country to return to their homes.

“UNHCR is scaling up its presence in Myanmar. We're, today, in seven states and we'll be working hard…to give our contribution to the peace-building process…,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres said in the city of Yangon in southern Myanmar on Thursday, Reuters reported.

"UNHCR, together with the broader humanitarian communities, will be involved in the delivering of human assistances to the populations of internally displaced, but also helping and cooperating with the government in the preparation of return to the areas of origin," he added.

Since June, hundreds of members of the nearly-one-million-strong Rohingya Muslim minority have been killed and tens of thousands of others among them displaced in the west of the country due to a wave of communal violence.

On June 3, 10 Rohingya Muslims were killed when a mob of ethnic group, known as Rakhines, who are mostly Buddhists, attacked a passenger bus in the western Myanmar Rakhine state that borders Bangladesh.

According to a group of UK-based NGOs, from June 10 to 28, 650 Rohingya Muslims were killed, 1,200 went missing, and more than 80,000 others were displaced as a result of rioting, arson, and a cycle of revenge attacks in the western state.

The NGOs also accused Myanmar’s Army and police “of playing a leading role in targeting Rohingyas through mass arrests and arbitrary violence.”

On July 6, Human Rights Watch said that some within Myanmar's security forces had carried out "mass round-ups" and other abuses against the Muslim minority.

"While the Burmese Army has largely contained the sectarian violence, abuses by security forces against Rohingya communities appear to be on the upsurge in recent weeks," the rights group said, using Myanmar's colonial-era name.

Over the past two years, throngs of ethnic Muslims have attempted to flee by boats in the face of systematic oppression by the government.

The government refuses to recognize them. They say the Rohingya are not native and classify them as illegal migrants, although, they have lived in Myanmar for generations.

Referring to the minority, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein told Guterres, "We will send them away if any third country would accept them…This is what we are thinking is the solution to the issue."


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