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Rohingyas: UN expert appeal to Bangladesh to reverse its closed border policy

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UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Thomas Andrews on Thursday appealed to the government of Bangladesh to “reverse its closed border policy” and demonstrate their humanitarian support for the Rohingya once again though Bangladesh is already overburdened with 1.3 million Rohingyas.

“Once again, Bangladesh’s generosity may be their only hope as large groups of Rohingya are forcibly displaced and move towards the border,” said US-origin UN expert.

The Special Rapporteur warned however that Bangladesh does not have the capacity to meet the demands of this crisis without the emergency intervention and support of the international community.

Rations cuts, inadequate infrastructure, spiralling violence, and reported forced recruitment by Rohingya militant groups have threatened the lives and well-being of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the expert observed in a statement issued from Geneva.

He urged all States to provide an emergency infusion of funds to help rescue and support desperate families fleeing conflict and address the current conditions in the camps.

“The choice of these States to either step up or step away from this horror could literally be a matter of life and death for countless Rohingya,” Andrews said.

Thousands of innocent lives will be lost if the international community fails to respond to ominous signs of another Rohingya bloodbath in Rakhine State, the UN expert said.

“Once again, the world seems to be failing desperate people in their hour of peril while a hate-driven unnatural disaster unfolds in real time in Myanmar’s Rakhine State,” he said.

“While the military-imposed internet shutdown makes it challenging to get information from Northern Rakhine, alarming and credible reports of killings, enforced disappearances, and widespread arson are emerging,” Andrews said.

Satellite imagery reveals the burning of large parts of the Buthidaung town, with reports that tens of thousands of Rohingya are being displaced.

“Information that has already emerged from northern Rakhine State more than warrants an immediate emergency response by the international community,” the Special Rapporteur said.

“With multiple armed groups actors operating in Rakhine, including the Myanmar military, the Arakan Army, and Rohingya groups, including the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, I call on all to adhere to international humanitarian law and take all steps to protect innocent civilian lives, regardless of religion or ethnicity. Mechanisms to provide emergency humanitarian aid must be immediately established and all parties must support the robust infusion of aid into Rakhine,” the expert said.

“While an investigation must ultimately uncover the truth and justice must be pursued to hold those responsible fully accountable, the military’s role is clear in fostering toxic conditions in Rakhine State, from propaganda fueling ethnic tensions to the forced recruitment of young Rohingya men into the junta’s military.”

Andrews recalled that by opening its border in 2017, Bangladesh saved the lives of untold numbers of Rohingya who fled in the face of genocidal attacks.

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