UNITED NATIONS, United States, Sept 27, (AFP): The UN Security Council met behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss the violence in Myanmar, moving to step up its response to the exodus of 480,000 Rohingya Muslims in what has been condemned as “ethnic cleansing.” The meeting sets the stage for a public session of the top UN body on Thursday, during which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is set to brief on the crisis and China, along with other council members, will deliver remarks.
International alarm is growing over the fate of the Rohingya who have been fleeing an army campaign in Rakhine state that the United Nations says has included killings, rape and the torching of villages.
The military operation followed attacks on Aug 25 by Rohingya militants on police posts. British Deputy UN Ambassador Jonathan Allen said the council must “send a clear message to the authorities of Myanmar that the violence needs to stop.” Humanitarian aid must be allowed in Rakhine state and the status of the Rohingya, who are stateless in Myanmar, must be addressed, he said.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre said he was pushing for a “strong and united response” from the council to pile pressure on authorities in Myanmar. The UN has drawn up a contingency plan to feed up to 700,000 Muslim Rohingya refugees.
A senior official from the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) told AFP they were now prepared to provide massive food and other emergency aid if the influx continues in coming weeks. In related news, Bangladesh police Wednesday arrested three Rohingya men and a Bangladeshi who were trying to smuggle 800,000 methamphetamine pills into the country from Myanmar, an official said.
Meanwhile, Rika Dhar watched as her husband, two brothers and countless neighbours were brutally hacked to death with machetes by masked men who stormed their Hindu village in western Myanmar and frogmarched the terrified inhabitants to the hills. “After the killing, they dug three large pits and threw them inside.
Their hands were still tied behind them and their eyes blindfolded,” said 25-year-old Dhar in a Hindu camp inside Bangladesh where she fled with her two children. Eyewitnesses told AFP the bloodshed occurred outside their small Hindu village in Kha Maung Seik in northern Rakhine state, where Myanmar authorities have exhumed 45 corpses from mass graves since Sunday.
The army says the grim discoveries are evidence of a massacre by Muslim Rohingya militants on Aug 25, the same day the insurgents launched coordinated raids on police posts that unleashed a surge of communal bloodshed. The military’s sweeping reprisal has left hundreds dead and sent nearly half a million Rohingya refugees fleeing to Bangladesh, where they have described a campaign of armyled violence the UN says amounts to ethnic cleansing.