Rohingya refugees have demanded guarantees for a safe return to Myanmar during a visit to refugee camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district by a United Nations Security Council delegation.
Representatives from the 15 member countries of the UN organ on Sunday spoke with some of the 700,000 people who fled what the UN has called “ethnic cleansing” in neighbouring Myanmar in a visit aimed at giving representatives a glimpse of the situation firsthand.
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At Kutupalong, hundreds of refugees staged a protest. Some carried placards reading “We want justice”.
Rohingya representatives gave the visiting diplomats a charter with demands, including an international security presence in Rakhine State, repatriation under UN supervision and the restoration of their citizenship in Myanmar, news agency DPA reported.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, told reporters that the diplomats would not look away from the crisis, but added that finding a solution would be no easy task.
“It’s very necessary to come and see everything at place here in Bangladesh and Myanmar. But there is no magic solution, there is no magic stick to solve all these issues,” The Associated Press news agency quoted him as saying.
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, Reporting from Cox’s Bazar, said female refugees in tears had told the representatives about being raped and losing family members.
The representatives were also shown a presentation that included “very graphic photographs” of what they were told were Rohingya refugees who had been killed as they tried to escape Myanmar.
“Today’s events have been a big eye-opener for this delegation,” Stratford said.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees started arriving in Bangladesh in August last year, after Myanmar’s army launched a violent crackdown on Rohingya in Rakhine State.
Myanmar security forces were accused of rape, murder, torture and setting Rohingya homes on fire.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said that in the first month of the crackdown, 6,700 mostly Muslim Rohingya were killed.
On Monday, the diplomats will continue on to Myanmar for a meeting with State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi and a tour by helicopter of Rakhine State.