Sunday, April 29, 2018

UN visit Rohingya Refugee Camps

A UN security council delegation arrived in Bangladesh on Friday as part of a trip to hear first-hand the experiences of 700,000 Rohingya refugees subjected to a campaign of violence, rape and arson at the hands of Myanmar’s military since August 2017. Members of the UN security council have expressed dismay at the “overwhelming” suffering they encountered. While UN reports have already condemned the violence as both ethnic cleansing and having “all the hallmarks of genocide”, this is the first visit by the security council and holds great significance. The council has the power to refer matters to the international criminal court (ICC) and to deploy peacekeepers.

Lise Gregoire-van Haaren, deputy permanent representative of the Netherlands to the UN, said: “The number of heavily traumatised women, men and children is beyond comprehension."

Karen Pierce, the UK ambassador to the UN, who was among the 15 members on the trip, was confronted by dozens of Rohingya refugees making emotional pleas for the UN to hear their stories and make sure justice was done. Women wept in her arms as they recounted their experiences.
“It shows the scale of the challenge as we try as a security council to find some way through that enables these poor people to go home,” Pierce said. “The sad thing is there’s nothing we can do right today that will make their distress any less.”
The deputy US ambassador to the UN, Kelley Eckels Currie, described the visit as “quite overwhelming”.
“Obviously the scale of this camp is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It is going to be a disaster when the rains come,” she said.
The security council will visit the Rakhine state, where the violence against the Rohingya was carried out, with the main goal of inspecting whether the displaced Rohingya can return safely. The UN has been denied access to Rakhine until now and the relationship between the organisation and Myanmar has been fraught because of the former’s description of the violence as ethnic cleansing and genocide.

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