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UN chief pens op-ed ripping world for Rohingya plight

Antonio Guterres writes ‘nothing could have prepared’ him for the ‘bone-chilling’ accounts he heard from Rohingyarefugees

WASHINGTON  – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres lashed out at the international community over the ongoing tragedies befalling Myanmar’s minority Muslim Rohingyapeople.

In a scathing op-ed published in the Washington Post, Guterres recounted the horrors the Rohingya are being subjected to, saying nothing could have prepared him for the “bone-chilling accounts” he heard during a trip last week to Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have taken refuge.

“Small children butchered in front of their parents. Girls and women gang-raped while family members were tortured and killed. Villages burned to the ground,” he said, recounting what he heard when he traveled to Cox’s Bazar.

The district on Bangladesh’s southeast coast has taken in the bulk of Rohingya refugees as they flee violence and persecution in their native Myanmar.

“These victims of what has been rightly called ethnic cleansing are suffering an anguish that can only stir a visitor’s heartbreak and anger,” Guterres wrote after returning. “Their horrific experiences defy comprehension, yet they are the reality for nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees.”

Since Aug. 25, 2017, more than 750,000 refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to Amnesty International.

At least 9,400 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine State from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24 last year, according to Doctors Without Borders.

In a report published recently, the humanitarian group said the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Guterres urged the international community to move beyond “expressions of solidarity,” saying “the Rohingya people need genuine assistance”. While praising Bangladesh’s efforts to cope with the crisis, he was adamant that the response “must be a global one,” citing its scope and gravity.

“The Rohingya people cannot become forgotten victims. We must answer their clear appeals for help with action,” he wrote.

“Far more resources are desperately needed to avert disaster and to give fuller expression to the principle that a refugee crisis calls for a global sharing of responsibility.”

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