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Ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar creates a right to water and sanitation crisis

The United Nations says, “In some makeshift sites around Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar area, humanitarian agencies have built tube wells that provide a much-needed source of drinking water for undocumented Rohingya living outside the official camps. ©UNHCR/Saiful Huq Omi”

Up to 400,000 Rohingyas have fled the state of Rakhine in Myanmar/Burma for neighbouring Bangladesh since August 25. That’s in addition to the 400,000 Rohingya refugees who had fled earlier from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

The Independent explains, “Rohingya Muslims face widespread persecution in Buddhist-majority Burma, where the recent violence has driven hundreds of thousands to seek refuge overseas. …Members of the ethnic group are commonly referred to as ‘Bengalis’ by many in Burma who insist they migrated illegally from Bangladesh.”

The Associated Press adds, “The Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority from Burma’s western Rakhine state has faced systematic persecution at the hands of the Buddhist majority for decades. The military junta that ruled the nation for decades stripped them of their citizenship. The democratically elected government under the leadership of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Aung San Suu Kyi has looked the other way as they have since been pushed into squalid camps in their own hometowns and villages.”

Now Amnesty International says, “The evidence is irrefutable – the Myanmar security forces are setting northern Rakhine State ablaze in a targeted campaign to push the Rohingya people out of Myanmar. Make no mistake: this is ethnic cleansing.” The United Nations has also described the situation as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Edouard Beigbeder, the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund in Bangladesh, says of the situation now for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh (60 per cent of whom are children), “There are acute shortages of everything, most critically shelter, food and clean water. Conditions on the ground place children at high risk of water-borne disease. We have a monumental task ahead of us to protect these extremely vulnerable children.”

The UN reports, “In its response, the UN agency has been dispatching trucks filled with emergency water, sanitation and hygiene supplies to Cox’s Bazar (located near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border), with a steady stream of supplies in the pipeline for the coming days and weeks. …UNICEF is also supporting the Department of Public Health Engineering with water treatment plants and carriers, and is working with partners on the ground to install and rehabilitate tube wells.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called on Suu Kyi to suspend military action against Rohingya Muslims and recognize their right to return.

This past Wednesday (September 13), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his “deep concerns” to Suu Kyi in a telephone call.

The Globe and Mail notes, “Amnesty International Canada and Human Rights Watch have urged the government to step up pressure on Ms. Suu Kyi and her government to co-operate with a UN Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission, whose members have been denied visas by Myanmar, and allow humanitarian aid into the country.” And the CBC reports, “Some human rights groups and Rohingya activists in Canada have called on the Liberal government to strip the Nobel Peace Prize laureate of her honourary Canadian citizenship for her failure to address the violence against the Rohingya minority.”

#Rohingya #Right2Water