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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

UN team visits Rohingya camp as refugees call for justice  

Representatives will meet with victims of rape and torture before continuing to Myanmar

The high-level 15-member delegation of the UN Security Council talk to Rohingya refugees during their visit to Tombru in the Bangladeshi district of Bandarban. AFP
The high-level 15-member delegation of the UN Security Council talk to Rohingya refugees during their visit to Tombru in the Bangladeshi district of Bandarban. AFP

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims on Sunday gathered at a camp in Bangladesh to welcome a UN Security Council team that is getting a first-hand look at the plight of refugees who have fled military-led violence in Myanmar.

The refugees at the Kutupalong camp carried placards, some of which read "We want justice".

Some 700,000 refugees are seeking UN protection to return home.

The UN team plans to meet some of them, including victims of rape and torture, before continuing to Myanmar after concluding its three-day visit on Monday.

Representatives from the five permanent Security Council members — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — and 10 non-permanent member states have joined the delegation in the coastal town of Cox's Bazar, where the camps are located.

The recent spasm of violence in Myanmar began when Rohingya insurgents staged a series of attacks on August 25 on about 30 security outposts and other targets. In a subsequent crackdown described by UN and US officials as "ethnic cleansing," Myanmar security forces have been accused of rape, killing, torture and the burning of Rohingya homes. Thousands are believed to have been killed.

Desperate Rohingya refugees have rejected Myanmar's proposed ID cards, called national verification cards, saying they want citizenship — something they've been denied by the government in the Buddhist-majority nation.

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Read more:

Editorial: First Rohingya repatriation is little more than a PR stunt by a remorseless government

Myanmar building bases for security forces on burned Rohingya land – Amnesty

UN says 'ethnic cleansing' of Myanmar's Rohingya is continuing

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Myanmar authorities consider Rohingya to be Bengali immigrants from Bangladesh, and even refrain from using the word "Rohingya", even though the protesting refugees said on Sunday they belong to Myanmar, where they have been living for centuries.

"We are not Bengali, we are Rohingya. They have killed my family members, they tortured us, they will kill us again," Mohammed Tayab said, standing in front of a tent where he was expecting to meet the UN team. He said he was shot by Myanmar troops in his right leg, and was using a crutch.

"I am here to talk to them. We want justice from them," he said. Mr Tayab, 29, said he lost one brother, an uncle and a nephew after Myanmar soldiers shot them dead.

"I will tell them my stories. They should listen to us," he said.

The UN refugee agency and Bangladesh recently finalised a memorandum of understanding that said the repatriation process must be "safe, voluntary and dignified ... in line with international standards".

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