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UN Security Council Must Halt Disastrous March of Myanmar’s Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya


A Rohingya woman at Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh.

Matthew Wells is a Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International, and has just returned from two weeks of research in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh


LONDON, Feb 9 2018 (IPS) - Abdu Salam stayed in his village as Myanmar soldiers and local vigilantes burned down dozens of homes there last August. He stayed as news spread of atrocities that soldiers had committed in other Rohingya villages across northern Rakhine State.


He stayed because Hpon Nyo Leik village was his home, the only home he’d known, and he wanted to protect his family’s property and right to live there.


But when, at the end of 2017, the Myanmar military’s starvation tactics left Abdu Salam’s family struggling to find food, they were forced to join the exodus to Bangladesh.


On 13 February, the UN Security Council will be briefed again on the situation in Myanmar. The briefing comes as the Myanmar government says it’s ready to start repatriating people from Bangladesh. But the military’s efforts to drive the Rohingya population out of the country haven’t even ground to a halt.


The Security Council’s inaction, amid a weak international response to the ongoing crimes against humanity, has been a key part of the problem.Abdu Salam and I sat in his recently erected bamboo shelter at the edge of Kutupalong Extension, the ever-growing refugee camp in southern Bangladesh that houses most of the 688,000 Rohingya who have fled Myanmar since last August.


He was with his wife and six children, including his baby son, visibly emaciated, who slept in a makeshift crib that hung from the shelter’s ceiling.His family arrived in Bangladesh in early January, among the hundreds who still cross the border each week.


As part of our latest research in Bangladesh, my Amnesty Internation