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UN: Conditions in Myanmar Muslim camps are 'abysmal'

March 17, 2015

UN expert visited Rohingya Muslim camps in January 2015

GENEVA -- The situation in Rakhine State in Myanmar remains "dire" and conditions of camps of internally displaced Muslims are "abysmal," UN expert warned on Monday. 

Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Yanghee Lee, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, said discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities in Rakhine State was rampant. 

"The situation in Rakhine State remains dire. The atmosphere between communities is hostile. There have still been no credible investigations into the serious human rights violations that took place in 2012 and 2014," she said. 

Violence in the country had erupted between Buddhists and the long-persecuted Rohingya Muslims in 2012 and the state security forces took part in these serious human rights violations against the Rohingya Muslims, various NGOs have reported. 

Since an outbreak of communal violence between Buddhists and Muslims in 2012, the latter have been forced to live in camps from which they are forbidden to leave. 

"Conditions in Muslim IDP camps I visited were abysmal. People said they had only two options: "stay and die" or "leave by boat". No one should ever feel faced with such a choice." 

"The justification given by the government to the confinement of Muslims in camps for their own protection is troubling," Lee noted. 

"During my visit to the region, I met with local authorities and community leaders and visited camps for Buddhists as well as Rohingya Muslims. I witnessed the ongoing discriminatory restrictions on the freedom of movement of Muslim IDPs, which also impacts the enjoyment of other basic fundamental rights," Lee said. 

The South Korean rapporteur Lee made her second and last official visit to the country from Jan. 7 to 16, 2015.

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