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‘Rohingya want to see peacekeepers’ says UN source

UN human rights spokesman says refugees from violence in Myanmar demand protection

By Fatih Erel / AA

GENEVA: A UN human rights spokesman on Friday told Anadolu Agency Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar wanted to see a peacekeeping force protecting them.

Rupert Colville said there was “an obvious need for the international community, whether it is the UN Security Council, an individual state or so on, to absolutely find a way out of this situation, and the only possible solution is that the Rohingya are allowed to go back home.”

He also said there should be a political and security response to violence Myanmar: “In order to be safe, Rohingya refugees would like to see peacekeeping operation.”

“The international community needs to deal with that. This is a very, very serious situation. You cannot let an entire population be ethnically cleansed into neighboring countries,” Colville added.

“Clearly, there should be international action. Interestingly, some of the refugees do highlight they would like to have full citizenship and safety to return to Rakhine state [in Myanmar],” he said.

So far, the UN has not considered sending a peacekeeping force to Myanmar to end the violence, despite numerous reports saying attacks on Rohingya Muslims have been a concerted, well-organized campaign explicitly meant to push them out of the country into Bangladesh and block their return.

The humanitarian operations of some of UN agencies, including UNICEF, have been halted in northern Rakhine state because of the violence and security concerns.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel.

According to UN, landmines were planted after Aug. 25 on the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh in order to prevent the Rohingya population from returning.

The refugees are fleeing a military operation in Myanmar which has seen security forces and Buddhist mobs killing men, women and children, looting homes, and torching Rohingya villages.

Since Aug. 25, when the military launched a crackdown against Rohingya, 536,000 people crossed from Rakhine state into Bangladesh, according to the UN.

It is “the largest and speediest” movement of a civilian population in Asia since the 1970s, the UN said.