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Critical shortages for Myanmar's Rohingya 'may be crimes against humanity'

UN blasts 'discrimination and persecution' of Muslim community

Severe shortages of food, water and medical care for Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar could amount to crimes against humanity, the UN said yesterday.

“Recent developments in Rakhine state are the latest in a long history of discrimination and persecution against the Rohingya community.

“These could amount to crimes against humanity,” said UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar Tomas Ojea Quintana.Critical

The evacuation of aid workers, who serve as lifeline for members of the religious minority, “will only increase the vulnerability of this community.”

Hundreds of local and international aid workers fled Rakhine after their offices and homes were attacked by Buddhist mobs late last month.

The state is home almost all the country’s 1.3 million Rohingya, tens of thousands of of whom live in crowded camps.

In the last two years up to 280 people have been killed and another 140,000 forced to flee their homes.

Most of the victims have been Rohingya, living in apartheid-like conditions in camps just outside the state capital Sittwe.

Some of the camps could be critically short of water within a week, aid workers said yesterday. Food stocks are also running low.

Emergency medical services have come to a standstill since the forced eviction in February of Medecins Sans Frontieres — in part because the Nobel-prize winning group hired Rohingya staff — and the subsequent evacuation of almost all other international aid workers in March.

“These workers were providing essential life-saving support, including health services, water and food to internally displaced persons, isolated villages and other affected communities,” Mr Ojea Quintana said.

“Their withdrawal will have severe consequences on the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, including the right to life.”

The Rohingya have been described by the UN as one of the world’s most-persecuted minorities.

Though many were born in Myanmar to families that arrived generations ago, the government categorises them as illegal immigrants.

Denied citizenship by national law, they are not allowed to travel outside the state.

There are also restrictions on the jobs they can hold, how many children they can have and access to education.

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