Bangladesh, Myanmar Officials Visit Rohingya Trapped at Border

26 February, 2018, 09:53 | Author: Constance French

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday said that it has new satellite images showing 55 abandoned villages being burned to the ground in Rakhine State, home to some 1 million Rohingya, a Muslim minority subjected to a horrific campaign of violence in the country since August.

The UN refugee agency has also been excluded from a Rohingya refugee repatriation process organised by Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The group said it could not independently verify if any of the destroyed villages were inhabited when the demolition began, though the imagery suggests that the demolitions are ongoing.

Human Right Watch said it could not independently verify if the houses were occupied at the time.

In a report* marking six months since the start of the latest exodus of Rohingya refugees into southern Bangladesh, UNICEF says that floods caused by the forthcoming cyclone season are likely to engulf the fragile and insanitary camps where the most of the refugees are living, raising the likelihood of waterborne disease outbreaks and forcing clinics, learning centres and other facilities for children to close.

State media and the Office of the President have also reported construction in several areas across Rakhine State, some of which has been focused on road improvements and has involved clearing villages. The recent report by UNICEF read that recognizing the basic rights of the Rohingya people would create the necessary conditions for the return of the refugees to their homes in Myanmar.

Almost 700,000 Rohingya fled northern Rakhine State to Bangladesh after Myanmar launched security operations dogged by accusations of significant human rights abuses. As satellite photographs show, a return home might be simply impossible.

More news: Allies urge Trump to not go further on gun control measures

The non-profit Fortify Rights on Thursday urged the government of Myanmar, led by Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, to free all political prisoners and ensure that human rights defenders can conduct their work.

The AP reported some reasons to doubt the assertion that construction efforts were meant to help the Rohingya, who "fear authorities are seizing land they've lived on for generations".

United Nations agencies estimate, there are around 534,000 Rohingya refugee children from a year ago and previous influxes to Bangladesh.

"Everything is wiped away, and this is very concerning, because these are crime scenes", he said.

The operation not only "threatens to erase both the memory and the legal claims of the Rohingya who lived there", he said. In a report, United Nations investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

Zubairia, who asked that only one of her names be used to protect her identify because she feared reprisals, said she did not believe any of the newly constructed homes were intended for Rohingya.

"The warning signs in Myanmar had always been visible: massive discrimination and segregation had become normalised within a regime that amounted to apartheid, and for long years the Rohingya people were routinely demonised and stripped of the basic conditions needed to live in dignity".



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