Myanmar must end persecution of the Rohingya now

Posted September 22, 2017

United Nations aid agencies said this week they are ramping up operations in southeast Bangladesh where more than 420,000 Rohingya Muslims have sought refuge from violence in neighboring Myanmar.

There were an estimated 1.1 million Rohingya in Rakhine state before the current crisis, though almost half have fled into Bangladesh where they are cramped into ill-equipped camps.

The new funding brings USA humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons in Burma and refugees from Burma in the region to almost $95 million in FY 2017, and it reflects the US commitment to help address the unprecedented magnitude of suffering and urgent humanitarian needs of the Rohingya people.

The United States is providing an additional almost $32 million in humanitarian assistance to address the urgent needs of Rohingya fleeing violence from Rakhine State, Burma to Bangladesh, as well as internally displaced persons in Rakhine State, and host communities in Bangladesh. "Recently, Burmese security forces responded to militant attacks on government outposts with bad savagery, burning villages, driving the Rohingya from their homes; the images of the violence and its victims have shocked the American people and decent people all over the world".

"We have told Myanmar that they will have to take back their citizens".

Rohingyas are minority Muslims in western Myanmar and have been fleeing their homes following an army crackdown on their villages that has left hundreds dead.

The insurgent attacks against the Myanmarese police and military forces in the state of Rakhine on August 25 caused a massive number of residents to flee to Bangladesh, mostly of them Rohingya, a Muslim minority group in Myanmar where the majority of the population is Buddhist.

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Armed conflicts were the main reason for the displacement crises, SIPRI said in its 48th edition of its annual yearbook. Tijjani Bande, said it was sad that "there were countries that still have nuclear weapons and refused to give them up".

"The Rohingyas are not refugees".

The Rohingya are relegated to the Rakhine State within Myanmar, an area made up of various religious and ethnic minorities, and make up an estimated population of around 1.3 million.

Moreover, the Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim group and Trump's proposed ban on visitors from several Muslim-majority countries has been widely seen as Islamophobic.

The Rohingya minority in Myanmar is frequently described as one of the most persecuted groups in the world.

Speaking at a Security Council meeting on peacekeeping reform, Pence accused the Myanmar military of responding to militant attacks on government outposts "with awful savagery, burning villages, driving the Rohingya from their homes".

India's threat perception about Rohingya immigrants posing a security threat is therefore not unfounded.

Amid urgent calls from the United Nations for humanitarian access this week, Myanmar insisted the crisis was easing. Instead of denouncing the violence perpetrated by the military, Suu Kyi said more time was needed to investigate why so many Rohingya are fleeing.