Myanmar still not safe for Rohingya


She started her speech to the Security Council today by recounting how a Rohingya refugee in Bangladesh, Noor Kadir, told AP how he survived an attack by soldiers and six days later found friends buried in mass graves.

Myanmar has failed to put in place conditions for the safe return of 688,000 Rohingya refugees who fled an army crackdown six months ago, the United Nations refugee chief said.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged the council to ensure Myanmar's military is held accountable for its campaign against the Rohingya, following accounts of killings, burning of villages, rape and mass graves.

In his briefing, Grandi commended the Government and people of Bangladesh for continuing to receive refugees and provide them with protection and support in the Kutupalong area in Cox's Bazar - which is now the largest refugee settlement in the world.

Grandi stressed that UNHCR has not had access to affected areas of the northern part of Rakhine State since August 2017, and that access in central Rakhine has also been curtailed.

"Right now, these refugees don't have this confidence", she said.

"The causes of their flight have not been addressed, and we have yet to see substantive progress on addressing the exclusion and denial of rights that has deepened over the last decades, rooted in their lack of citizenship", he continued.

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Myanmar has made "great strides" in restoring stability and has given Bangladesh a list of "508 Hindus and 750 Muslims" to be among the first returnees, said Ambassador Hau Do Suan.

French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre also told the Security council that a massacre of Rohingya Muslims reported by Reuters could "constitute crimes against humanity".

But Bangladesh's U.N. Ambassador Masud Bin Momen echoed Grandi, noting "the prevailing reluctance to repatriation among those forcibly displaced". They were arrested on September 1 past year and executed the next day before they could be handed over to the police, he said. Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy, however, said that the overall situation was under control because of the efforts of the Myanmar authorities.

More immediately, Grandi said tens of thousands of Rohingyas in Bangladesh need to be urgently relocated because of the upcoming monsoon rains. The government says they are Bengali migrants from Bangladesh living illegally in the Buddhist-majority country. "The Bangladeshi Government is steering a massive emergency preparedness effort, but worldwide support must be stepped up to avert a catastrophe", he said, stressing, "as we have repeatedly said, resolving this crisis means finding solutions inside Myanmar".

Without education and opportunities to learn skills and earn an income, Grandi warned that refugees, and especially those who are young, will become disillusioned which can lead to radicalization and other risks including sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking, and other forms of abuse and exploitation.

The council is demanding that aid workers be allowed to reach those displaced inside Rakhine state and wants UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to quickly appoint a special envoy to Myanmar.

Senior UN officials and delegates from other western countries also demanded the reporters' release.

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