US asks Myanmar to provide security in Rakhine state

The Rohingya are described by the UN as among the world`s most persecuted minorities, and are not officially recognised as citizens in Burma since 1982.

Dhaka: The US on Friday asked Myanmar to ensure security in its troubled western Rakhine state and appealed to Bangladesh to soften its stance on allowing Rohingyas fleeing their home to evade the sectarian clash that has left at least 180 people dead.

"Ensure that actions are taken to maintain calm, restore security and stability according to international standards, and to hold those responsible for the violence fully accountable under just and transparent procedures according to the rule of law," visiting US Under Secretary of State, Mar’a Otero said at southeastern Cox`s Bazar, bordering Myanmar.

She said the US continued to monitor the tensions and inter-communal violence between majority Buddhists and minority Rohingya Muslims there and "consistently" urged "Burma" to enable unhindered humanitarian access across Rakhine State and to ensure the provision of security as the UN and other humanitarian organisations implement assistance.

"We also urge... Bangladesh to respect the principle of non-refoulement, as the persons fleeing the violence in Burma may be refugees or have protection needs," Otero said.

Otero`s comments came as she along with several US state department officials including US ambassador in Dhaka, Dan Mozena, visited one of the makeshift Rohingya camp at Kutupalang.

The US delegation also held talks with local officials and public representatives including Ukhia upazila vice chairman Shah Alam, who demanded immediate repatriation of the Rohingyas while during the visit the Rohingyas staged a demonstration carrying banners and placards highlighting their problems.

Otero, too, called the Rohingya issue a "complex one" with a strong international dimension saying it required a concerted effort by affected countries in the region.

"We stand ready to assist Burma, Bangladesh and other countries in the region affected by Rohingya displacement to reach a comprehensive, sustainable, and just solution to their plight," she said.

The US earlier called on all countries in the region to open their borders to Rohingya boat-people many of whom are fleeing the violence by taking to the high seas while Bangladesh tightened its border with Myanmar declining to accept fresh Rohingya influx saying it was already overburdened with thousands of them for decades.

The Rohingya, who make up the vast majority of those displaced in the fighting, are described by the UN as among the world`s most persecuted minorities, and are not officially recognised as citizens in Burma since 1982.


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