Over 100 Rohingya Muslims have crossed into Bangladesh from Burma since Wednesday, with the latest refugees saying army operations are continuing in troubled Rakhine State, raising doubts about plans to send back 655,500 who had already fled.
Officials from Burma and Bangladesh meet on Monday to discuss how to implement a deal signed in November on the repatriation of more than 650,000 Rohingya who have fled Burma since late August. But many say fear returning.
Burma’s admission that soldiers were involved in the murder of 10 Muslims in September was an important step and the United States hoped it would be followed by more transparency and accountability, the US ambassador said on Thursday.
Burma’s military said its soldiers had murdered 10 captured Muslim “terrorists” during insurgent attacks at the beginning of September, after Buddhist villagers had forced the captured men into a grave they had dug.
Rohingya Muslim insurgents ambushed a military vehicle in Rakhine State, wounding five members of the security forces, Burmese state media and officials said, and the rebels claimed responsibility for the rare attack.
Sold for $130 to work as a rag picker in the northern Indian town of Mathura, Rohingya refugee Abdul Rahman lived in a tenement of stitched together polythene bags and pined for his home and the lush farmland he owned in Burma’s Rakhine State.
Health workers in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh are struggling with a shortage of medics able to administer antitoxins to patients infected with diphtheria that has killed nearly two dozen people, aid officials said.
At least 6,700 Rohingya Muslims, including many children, were killed in the first month of violence that erupted in Burma’s troubled Rakhine State in August, Medecins Sans Frontieres said on Thursday.
Burmese security forces may be guilty of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority, the United Nations’ top human rights official said on Tuesday, adding that more were fleeing despite an agreement between Burma and Bangladesh to send them home.
Pope Francis ended a diplomatically tricky trip to Asia on Saturday, seeking the forgiveness of Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh after his controversial decision to not directly refer to their plight when he visited their homeland, Burma.
Pope Francis called on Thursday for decisive measures to resolve the political reasons that caused mostly Muslim refugees in Burma to flee to Bangladesh and urged countries to help the Dhaka government deal with the crisis.
The Vatican on Wednesday defended Pope Francis’s decision not to use the word “Rohingya” in public during his visit to Burma, saying his moral authority was unblemished and that his mere presence drew attention to the refugee crisis.
Bangladesh approved a $280 million project on Tuesday to develop an isolated and flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal to temporarily house 100,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in neighbouring Burma.
Pope Francis on Tuesday urged the leaders of majority-Buddhist Burma, mired in a crisis over the fate of Muslim Rohingya people, to commit themselves to justice, human rights and respect for “each ethnic group and its identity.”
The UN Human Rights Council is expected to hold a special session on alleged killings, rapes and other crimes committed against Rohingya Muslims in Burma that have driven more than 600,000 into Bangladesh since August.
State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi will soon visit Beijing, state media said on Monday, as Burma appears to draw closer to its northern neighbour China amid global criticism over an exodus of Rohingya refugees.
Bangladesh is in negotiations with Burma aimed at a deal to repatriate displaced Rohingya and Dhaka’s foreign minister will address the matter at talks in Burma this week, the Bangladeshi foreign ministry said on Sunday.
Leading figures in the Catholic Church and international politics have advised Pope Francis not to use the term Rohingya during a trip to Burma due to political sensitivities, but human rights groups want him to uphold international law on self-identity.
Many shops in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur are being used to send money to refugee camps in Bangladesh since a military crackdown in August prompted over 600,000 members of the Muslim minority group to flee Burma.
Blessed by calmer seas, several hundred more Rohingya Muslims on Thursday joined a multitude of refugees in Bangladesh, as calls grew for upcoming regional summits to exert more pressure on Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi to stem the crisis.