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UN Rights Chief Says Intensified Fighting In Rakhine Poses 'Grave Threat' To Civilians

19.04.2024 16:42

'Alarm bells are ringing, and we must not allow there to be a repeat of past,' according to Volker Turk.

The UN human rights chief on Friday warned that intensified fighting in Rakhine state of Myanmar poses "a grave threat to the civilian population," fearing that past atrocities will be repeated.

"Rakhine State has once again become a battleground involving multiple actors, and civilians are paying a heavy price, with Rohingya at particular risk," Volker Turk said in a statement.

"What is particularly disturbing is that whereas in 2017, the Rohingya were targeted by one group, they are now trapped between two armed factions who have a track record of killing them. We must not allow the Rohingya to be targeted again," he said.

Noting that the military has been losing ground to the Arakan Army throughout northern and central Rakhine, the human rights office said this has led to intensified fighting in the townships of Buthidaung and Maungdaw - home to large Rohingya populations, putting them at grave risk.

"It is unconscionable that they should be targeted in this way, given the appalling events of six years ago, and the ongoing extreme discrimination against the Rohingya including the denial of citizenship," he added.

Turk urged countries with influence on the Myanmar military and armed groups involved to "act now" to protect all civilians in Rakhine and prevent "another episode of horrendous persecution" of the Rohingya.

"The alarm bells are ringing, and we must not allow there to be a repeat of the past," Turk said.

Since the year-long informal cease-fire between the two sides broke down last November, 15 of Rakhine's 17 townships have been affected by fighting, resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries and taking the number of displaced to well over 300,000, according to the rights office. -

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