UN Security Council envoys begin four-day visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar to see firsthand the aftermath of a Myanmar military crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in what the UN calls "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing".
UN Security Council envoys began a four-day visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar on Saturday (April 28) to see firsthand the aftermath of a Myanmar military crackdown that Britain, the United States and others have denounced as "ethnic cleansing" of Rohingya Muslims.
They are due to meet Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and travel to Rakhine state, where the violence erupted eight months ago.
Myanmar denies the accusations of ethnic cleansing.
Rohingya rebel attacks on security posts in Rakhine on August 25 last year sparked the military operation that has sent nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to camps in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh.
Council envoys will visit those camps on Sunday.
TRT World's Philip Owira reports.
Monsoon feared to worsen situation
The visit puts a global spotlight back on the crisis amid warnings by the United Nations, aid groups and Myanmar's panel of international advisers on Rohingya issues that the coming monsoon season would likely worsen the humanitarian situation.
"We have to push to see how we can speed up the process of the implementation of the bilateral agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar," said Kuwait's UN ambassador Mansour Ayyad Al Otaibi.
Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed in January to complete a voluntary repatriation of the refugees within two years.
While the Security Council is united on traveling to the region, there is resistance by Myanmar ally China and Russia - both veto-wielding powers on the council - over how involved the 15-member body should be.
More than 4,000 people have been displaced in Myanmar's northernmost state of Kachin near the border with China in the last three weeks, a UN official says pic.twitter.com/neZ4ZxB3YJ— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) April 28, 2018
Decades of religious persecution
Buddhist-majority Myanmar has for years denied Rohingya citizenship, freedom of movement and access to many basic services such as healthcare and education. They are considered illegal immigrants from mainly Muslim Bangladesh.
Fleeing refugees have reported killings, rapes and arson on a large scale. Myanmar has said its operations in Rakhine were a legitimate response to attacks on security forces by Rohingya rebels.
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has asked it to rule on whether it has jurisdiction over the deportations of Rohingyas to Bangladesh, a possible crime against humanity.
The US government is conducting an intensive examination of alleged atrocities against Myanmar's Rohingya that could be used to prosecute Myanmar's military for crimes against humanity, US officials told Reuters news agency on Wednesday.
The European Union on Thursday (April 26) extended its arms embargo against Myanmar, following human rights violations in the country, and was preparing sanctions against individual army officials.