UN increases aid request after concern over Rohingya rights abuses
The UN has requested 430 million dollars to scale up relief efforts for Rohingya refugees, with UN rights experts expressing concern that human rights violations against the minority Muslim population in Myanmar may amount to "crimes against humanity."
That figure includes an appeal from the UN-affiliated International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for nearly 120 million dollars to deliver "desperately needed aid" to refugees in "dire condition."
The donation request, double the amount the UN asked for last month, also includes an appeal from UNICEF, which focuses on women and children, for 76.1 million dollars.
"We are particularly worried about the fate of Rohingya women and children subject to serious violations of their human rights, including killings, rape and forced displacement," said a statement on Wednesday by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has previously called the violence in Northern Rakhine state, which has driven half a million Rohingya into neighbouring Bangladesh since August, a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing."
"The human tragedy unfolding in southern Bangladesh is staggering in its scale, complexity and rapidity," UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake and Mark Lowcock, the UN's top official for humanitarian affairs, said in a statement after a joint trip to Bangladesh.
Myanmar has denied allegations of ethnic cleansing and genocide.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday accused Myanmar soldiers of carrying out mass killings, torture and arson attacks on Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine. The rights watchdog said in a statement that it had also heard allegations of sexual assaults on Rohingya women by Myanmar soldiers in Maung Nu, a Muslim village, after the military launched an offensive against Muslim insurgents.
The watchdog said it interviewed numerous Rohingya men and women who crossed into Bangladesh after witnessing and experiencing the military brutality first hand.
"These atrocities demand more than words from concerned governments; they need concrete responses with consequences," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
HRW has called for the UN Security Council to adopt an arms embargo and individual sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, against Myanmar military commanders implicated in abuses.
HRW added that Myanmar soldiers beat, sexually assaulted, stabbed and shot villagers who gathered for safety in a residential compound two days after Rohingya militants attacked a local security outpost and military base on 25 August.
An estimated 509,000 Rohingya Muslims have crossed into Bangladesh after the sectarian violence began in Myanmar's Rakhine state, according to the IOM. Most of the refugees are in dire need of food, shelter and medical care. (dpa)
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