400,000 Refugees Flee Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar

Residents of the Thet Kae Pyin camp for displaced people in Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar. (file) Photo: OCHA/P.Peron
Residents of the Thet Kae Pyin camp for displaced people in Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar. (file) Photo: OCHA/P.Peron

As world leaders are meeting at the UN General Assembly, almost 400,000 refugees flee ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.

According to human rights group Amnesty International, the leaders have not only failed to make good on their promises to take in more refugees, but have actively dismantled refugee rights in many parts of the world.

A year on from the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in New York, where leaders pledged to take in more refugees and help vulnerable people forced to flee their countries, global refugee numbers are increasing year on year as conflicts spiral out of control, Amnesty said Monday.

“The horrific situation in Myanmar is exactly why we need more than just a sticking-plaster approach to helping those fleeing war and persecution,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“After being subjected to horrific violence, including killings and having their villages burned to the ground, these Rohingya refugees are now facing a humanitarian crisis as Bangladesh struggles to support them.”

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The latest evidence published by Amnesty International points to a mass-scale scorched-earth campaign across northern Rakhine State, where Myanmar security forces and vigilante mobs are burning down entire Rohingya villages and shooting people at random as they try to flee.

In legal terms, Amnesty says, these are crimes against humanity – systematic attacks and forcible deportation of civilians.

As a consequence, in the space of less than three weeks, almost 400,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh. This is more than the total number of refugees who came to Europe by sea in 2016.

World leaders gathering in New York for this year’s UN General Assembly are expected to discuss the spiraling situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, from where the long-persecuted Rohingya population have been forced to flee because of an unlawful and totally disproportionate military response to attacks by a Rohingya armed group.

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Rakesh Raman