A group of prominent community activists and politicians, including eleven Nobel peace prize winners, have written to the UN Security Council urging them to help end the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims living in the Rakhine province in Myanmar. The authors include South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The letter says, “A human tragedy amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity is unfolding in Myanmar. If we fail to take action, people may starve to death if they are not killed with bullets.” It goes on to express frustration with Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s Leader, for not taking “any initiative to ensure full and equal citizenship rights of the Rohingyas” and describes the military action against them as “ethnic cleansing”.
The UN has estimated that 34,000 Rohingya – half of them women and children – have had to flee their homes in Rakhine, most to Bangladesh, since the military began the latest crackdown in early October and that the death toll has reached 86. It has already criticised the Myanmar Government for its actions – saying in early December that it was receiving reports of abuse including rapes and killing on a daily basis. The Myanmar Government has defended itself, claiming that it has only been cracking down on terrorism and that only 2,415 people have fled to Bangadesh.
In the meantime, the EU has announced that it has made an emergency donation of 300,000 euros to help support an estimated 7,500 Rohingya refugees who have recently arrived in the Cox’s Bazar area. Roman Majcher, Head of the EU Commission’s humanitarian aid department office in Bangladesh, said, “The support from the European Commission will not only ensure that their urgent needs are addressed, but will also contribute to help them cope with what they have just gone through by providing them with psychological support.”