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Asean & Global Updates
POSTED | 13:21 PM | 29-09-2017

More than 60 Rohingya feared drowned as US steps up pressure

More than 60 Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar are believed to have drowned when their boat capsized, the latest victims in what the United Nations says is the world’s fastest-developing refugee emergency, Reuters reported on Friday (Sept 29, 2017).

The refugees drowned in heavy seas off Bangladesh late on Thursday, part of a new surge of people fleeing a Myanmar military campaign that began on Aug 25 and has triggered an exodus of more than half a million people.

International anger with Myanmar over the crisis is growing.

In New York, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called on countries to suspend providing weapons to Myanmar over the violence.

It was the first time the United States had called for punishment of Myanmar’s military, but she stopped short of threatening to re-impose US sanctions which were suspended under the Obama administration.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar rejects accusations of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and has denounced rights abuses.

Its military launched a big offensive in response to coordinated attacks on the security forces by Rohingya insurgents in the north of Rakhine State on Aug 25.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council the violence had spiraled into the “world’s fastest-developing refugee emergency, a humanitarian and human rights nightmare.”

Colonel Anisul Haque, head of the Bangladeshi border guards in the town of Teknaf, told Reuters more refugees had arrived over the past day or two after the number had seemed to be tailing off, with about 1,000 people landing at the main arrival point on the coast on Thursday.

Aid groups now say 502,000 refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since late August.

The refugee boat that capsized went over as darkness fell, in driving wind and rain and high seas.

An official with the International Organization for Migration said 23 people were confirmed dead and 40 were missing. Seventeen survived.

One survivor, Abdul Kalam, 55, said his wife, two daughters and a grandson were among the dead.

Kalam said armed Buddhists had come to his village about a week ago and taken away livestock and food. He said villagers had been summoned to a military office and told there were no such people as Rohingya in Myanmar.

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