Has the UN Failed the Rohingya People?
In 2012, the accusation of Muslims in the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman, set off the first wave of violent attacks against the Rohingya people and started a long crisis, through which the Muslims were restricted to living in camps. Since then, the Rohingya Muslims have been deemed aliens by the socialist leaders of Myanmar and extremist Buddhists, and their citizen’s rights have been disregarded by the Myanmar government. The government claimed that the Rohingya are illegal migrants who have come to Myanmar from Bangladesh.
According to the UN announcement, tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims are currently in overcrowded camps living in inhuman conditions for refugees. The people in the camps believe that the UN does not try enough to send aid, because if the UN had not been silent and had insisted, perhaps the extremist monks would have not done what they did. According to the UN, currently there are approximately 120,000 Rohingya in dozens of camps which in reality are like prisons. In the whole province of Rakhine they live in similar conditions. They are not allowed to leave the camps, while they rely on humanitarian aid to survive. Their human rights such as the freedom of movement is not accessible to them.
HRW has on several occasions accused Myanmar government institutions such as the police and the army of taking part in the violence which have resulted in “ethnic cleansing” and “crimes against humanity”. According to HRW at the start of the crisis, approximately 40 percent of the Muslims lived in the city of Sittwe, but right now the figure has dropped to less than 3 percent. At least 70,000 Muslims have been driven from their homes in this city and their mosques and homes have been burned down. Those that have remain, now suffer from food crisis. UN reports state that in October 2016 the “Rohingya rebels” attacked Myanmar border patrol troops. Reports estimate that the Myanmar army has killed over 1000 Rohingya men, women and children in the post border attack crackdowns.
Recently also a report has been published by the World Food Organization in which it has warned that tens of thousands of Rohingya children will be threatened by malnutrition in the coming year. According to the assessments of the WFO approximately 80,500 children under the age of 5 in 45 villiages in the western parts of Rakhine province are threatened by malnutrition and over the next 12 months they will need medical attention.
Furthermore, according to the UN, approximately 1 million Rohingya were banned from the 2015 elections. According to the governing the National League for Democracy Party did not enter any Muslim candidates due to anti-Muslim Buddhist nationalist pressures. Some of Muslims say they have nobody to represent them and their trust is only in the international countries.
But the efforts made by international organisations, especially the United Nations, appear to have raised more issues than they have solved. An MEE* investigation has revealed that sources within the UN, humanitarian community and international rights organisations are critical of how the Rohingya crisis has been handled by senior UN officials and, more broadly, by the organisation’s diplomatic presence in Myanmar. Divisions within the UN are also complicating its efforts to improve the lives of vulnerable people in Myanmar, including the Rohingya.
A press release from the group announced in March: “We were hoping that [the] international community would take necessary measures including sending peacekeeping forces... to protect Rohingya from being subject to genocide We demand... [our] rights.”
By: Marzieh Aziziyan
* Middle East Eye