NAYPYITAW, Myanmar — The Latest on the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh (all times local):
The U.N.’s migration agency says about 421,000 people have fled from Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh in less than a month amid a security crackdown allegedly targeting the Rohingya Muslim minority.
Spokesman Joel Millman of the International Organization for Migration says an estimated 20,000 people are flowing across Myanmar’s border into Bangladesh every day. IOM is the “lead agency” among U.N. agencies in Bangladesh helping to deal with the refugee flow since Aug. 25.
UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado said the children’s agency now estimates that over a quarter-million children have fled Myanmar over the last 25 days.
Speaking to reporters at a U.N. briefing Tuesday in Geneva, Millman cited estimates that at least 14,000 pregnant women had crossed the border. “It’s probably quite a bit more than that — but that’s the number they have confirmed.”
The head of a team of U.N. human rights investigators says comments by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi “bode well” for its so-far unsuccessful efforts to gain access to the country.
Marzuki Darusman decried stepped-up violence in Myanmar and an exodus of Rohingya Muslims over the last month, and asked the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council for a six-month extension until next September for his team’s first written report. He took the chairmanship of the council’s new fact-finding mission on Myanmar in July.
Addressing the council, Darusman cited “two main issues” gleaned from Suu Kyi’s speech earlier Tuesday: Myanmar’s government was ready to accept returnees once procedures are worked out, and ready to be “globally scrutinized by the international community.”
Myanmar’s government has previously denied access to the fact-finding mission.
Rights groups are critical of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s defense of her country’s conduct in violence that has driven out more than 400,000 Rohingya Muslims, but some observers are glad that she invited diplomats to travel to northern Rakhine state to see for themselves.
Suu Kyi said Tuesday that most Muslims within the conflict zone stayed and that “more than 50 percent of their villages were intact.”
She says the government is working to restore normalcy. Rohingya, however, blame government forces for driving them out.
Amnesty International regional director James Gomez accused Suu Kyi of “a mix of untruths and victim-blaming.”
But Andrew Kirkwood of the United Nations’ Office for Project services said it was positive that Suu Kyi welcomed the international community to parts of northern Rakhine.