Burma’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi visited areas hit by conflict in the western state of Rakhine on Thursday for the first time since attacks by militants from the Rohingya Muslim minority two months ago sparked a refugee crisis.
Burma has blamed Bangladesh for delaying the start of a repatriation process for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees, saying it feared Dhaka could be stalling until it receives multi-million dollars of international aid money.
The State Department is considering formally declaring the crackdown on Burma’s Rohingya Muslims to be ethnic cleansing, US officials said on Tuesday, as lawmakers called for sanctions against the Southeast Asian country’s military.
The United States is taking steps and considering a range of further actions over Burma’s treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority, including targeted sanctions under its Global Magnitsky law, the State Department said on Monday.
Nearly 340,000 Rohingya children are living in squalid conditions in Bangladesh camps where they lack enough food, clean water and health care, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Friday.
It’s difficult to read the accounts of alleged human rights violations by the Burmese military against Rohingya Muslims of Arakan State, but those who fled to Bangladesh are describing what has happened because they want help. They want the world to act.
Burma’s military has launched an internal probe into the conduct of soldiers during a counteroffensive that has sent more than half a million Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, many saying they witnessed killings, rape and arson by troops.
Rohingya Muslims are not native to Burma, the army chief told the US ambassador in a meeting in which he apparently did not address accusations of abuses by his men and said media was complicit in exaggerating the number of refugees fleeing.
The European Union and the United States are considering targeted sanctions against Burmese military leaders over an offensive that has driven more than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims out of the country, officials familiar with the discussions say.
Two weeks since the Burmese government pledged to begin a process for the return of hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees who have fled to Bangladesh, questions about the practicality of a mass repatriation loom large.
Two senior Burmese government officials have delivered aid to a remote Rohingya Muslim village, and guaranteed residents’ safety, after they were cut off and threatened by hostile Arakanese Buddhist neighbours, one of the officials said.
Muslim refugees seeking shelter in Bangladesh from “unimaginable horrors” in Burma face enormous hardship and risk a dramatic deterioration in circumstances unless aid is stepped up, the head of the UN refugee agency said on Monday.
Relief agencies struggling to reach hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims displaced by strife in northwestern Burma are facing rising hostility from ethnic Arakanese Buddhists who accuse the United Nations and foreign aid groups of only helping Muslims.
Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh could die due to a lack of food, shelter and water, given the huge numbers fleeing violence in Burma, an aid agency warned on Sunday, as authorities began moving people to camps to streamline the distribution of help.
The US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday he had spoken with Aung San Suu Kyi and that she said she was working to get aid to the Muslim areas in Arakan State that were affected by violence.
Pressure mounted on Burma on Tuesday to end violence that has sent more than 300,000 Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, with the United States calling for the protection of civilians and Bangladesh seeking international help to handle the crisis.
An alarming and unprecedented influx of 270,000 Rohingya have sought refuge in Bangladesh over the past two weeks from violence in Burma, the UN refugee agency said on Friday, a dramatic jump in the total as new pockets of people are found.
State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday blamed “terrorists” for “a huge iceberg of misinformation” on the violence in Arakan State but made no mention of the nearly 125,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled over the border to Bangladesh since 25 August.