UN Denounces Lack of Humanitarian Access to Myanmar's Rakhine State

UN Denounces Lack of Humanitarian Access to Myanmar's Rakhine State

UN Denounces Lack of Humanitarian Access to Myanmar's Rakhine State

Myanmarese authorities, led by de facto leader and Noble peace prize victor Aug San Suu Kyi, have been tightly controlling access to the state since last month when purported attacks by Rohingya militants prompted a brutal military response that has forced over 515,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh.

The United Nations has denounced the Myanmar military offensive as ethnic cleansing but Myanmar insists its forces are fighting "terrorists" who have killed civilians and burnt villages.

Under that agreement almost a quarter of a million people were repatriated from Bangladesh to Myanmar between the early 1990s and 2005, he said. "Obviously there's into the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya still in Myanmar, and we want to be ready in case there is a further exodus", Lowcock told a news briefing in Geneva.

Lowcock said that he believed "a high level" United Nations team would be able to visit the area "in the next few days", without elaborating, repeating UN's demands for Myanmar to allow "unhindered (and) unfettered" access to the state.

Myanmar has repeatedly denied claims it is working deliberately to wipe out the Rohingya, saying they are carrying out counter attacks against "brutal acts of terrorism".

"India and the European Union expressed deep concern at the recent spate of violence in the Rakhine state of Myanmar that has resulted in the outflow of a large number of people from the state, many of whom have sought shelter in neighbouring Bangladesh", the joint statement said. "We proposed that we should also involve worldwide bodies in the process because the numbers are large", he said.

According to the Disasters Emergency Committee charity, there are also over 50,000 pregnant and breastfeeding Rohingya women who are in desperate need of proper nutrition.

About 900,000 doses of cholera vaccine are due to arrive this weekend and a vaccination campaign should start on Tuesday.

Scores of Rohingya villages have been torched.

Suu Kyi, who has been severely criticised for her failure to curb the military crackdown, said last month that Myanmar would take back "verified" refugees.

Lowcock said talks between Myanmar and Bangladesh on a repatriation plan were a useful first step.

"If they treat us as equals, we would go back", he told AFP in a coastal town near the border.

"We want safety and food", the ambassador quoted the locals as telling him. "It is the responsibility of the State not to allow it to happen", the Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary said, even as he explained how concerns over security, radicalisation et al should not come in the way of dealing with it what is fundamentally a humanitarian issue.