News ID: 213103
Published: 0233 GMT April 11, 2018

Myanmar minister makes landmark visit to Rohingya camp

Myanmar minister makes landmark visit to Rohingya camp
Munir Uz Zaman/AFP via Getty Images
A Rohingya Muslim refugee looks on at a relief distribution point at Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh.

A Myanmar minister on Wednesday toured one of the Bangladesh camps struggling to provide for some one million Rohingya Muslims, the first such visit since a Myanmar Army crackdown sparked a massive refugee crisis.

Social welfare minister, Win Myat Aye, met with Rohingya leaders at the giant Kutupalong camp near the border city of Cox's Bazar, where a group of refugees tried to stage a protest during his visit, AFP reported.

It is the first time a Myanmar cabinet member has visited the overcrowded camps since a military crackdown that began last August in response to a spate of insurgent attacks forced some 700,000 of the Muslim minority to flee across the border.

They added to the 300,000 Rohingya refugees already in Bangladesh after previous bouts of violence.

An official said a group of refugees was prevented from unfurling a banner detailing a list of demands from the Rohingya.

Win Myat Aye met with some 30 Rohingya community leaders and was briefed on the situation in the sprawling refugee camps by Bangladeshi and United Nations officials, he added.

The leaders from the displaced minority group handed a statement to the Myanmar minister saying "it was not safe for them to return".

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement in November to repatriate some 750,000 refugees. Myanmar has approved several hundred Rohingya from a list of thousands to go back, but so far, not a single one has returned.

"The military is still abusing the Rohingya population in Arakan, there are many restrictions on Rohingya who still live there," the statement said, using a local name in Myanmar's westernmost Rakhine state.

"There has been no punishment for soldiers and security officers who committed abuses," it continued.

The Rohingya have faced decades of persecution in Myanmar but the most recent crackdown has forced them to flee in unprecedented numbers.

The UN and the US have called Myanmar's treatment of the Rohingya in the past eight months "ethnic cleansing".


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