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World should step up support for Rohingya
Since late August 2017, more than 725,000 mainly-Muslim Rohingya were forced to leave the Rakhine state in Myanmar, across the border into southern Bangladesh, fleeing widespread and systematic ethnic violence.

Under an agreement struck between the two countries, thousands of refugees were due to return to Myanmar. However, none is ready to leave owing to fear of the Myanmar army, also known as the Tatmadaw – and other groups – which have been accused of committing genocide.

Until today, the most persecuted people in the world have been deprived of justice.

There are also visible signals that the Myanmar authorities are backtracking on their commitments to earnestly address the Rohingya refugee crisis.

The decision to delay UN High Commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi’s trip and uncertainty surrounding a separate planned visit by the UN envoy Christine Schraner Burgener to Myanmar are unambiguous indications, justifying such concerns.

Britain in December circulated a draft Security Council resolution on Myanmar that would have set a deadline for authorities to roll out a strategy for addressing the Rohingya crisis. China, backed by Russia, however raised strong objections and refused to take part in the negotiations, suggesting it was ready to use its veto at the council to block the measure.

Britain, France, the United States and UN chief Antonio Guterres have rightly described the campaign against Rohingya as ethnic cleansing, while UN investigators have called for top generals to be investigated for genocide.

Amid all such powerful statements, the plight of the victims remains unaddressed.

Not only did the Rohingya face horrific violence at the hands of security forces in 2016 and 2017 with no accountability, they have been subjected to decades-long systematic discrimination and persecution in Myanmar.

Soldiers and Buddhist civilians massacred families, burned hundreds of villages and carried out gang rapes.

The worst-hit are Rohingya children, who face widespread restrictions to their movement, hampering access to health and education services in central Rakhine State.

The only way forward is for Myanmar to recognise the Rohingya Muslims’ ethnic identity, grant them citizenship and allow them to return to their original homes and lands with safety and security guarantee.

There’s no doubt that the international community has been slow in its response to the Rohingya crisis. Any more laxity on the part of the world community in getting justice for the helpless Rohingya would only be seen as a blot on humanity.
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