World Bulletin/News Desk
A spokesperson for the UN chief on Friday warned against a dramatic increase in the number of Muslims who are forced to leave Myanmar after last year's deadly attacks by Buddhists against the country's Rohingya community in Rakhine.
"We will watch the situation very closely, and will be guided by what the UN Refugee Agency would advise, since they are most directly involved in tracking this and also how to help the people," Martin Nesirky told Anadolu Agency on Friday.
He said more than 1,500 people fleeing Myanmar's Rakhine state boarded small unsafe boats last week in the Bay of Bengal.
Anti-Muslim sentiment has been stoked by a Buddhist political party that views Muslims as a threat as a group of ultra-nationalist monks say they are defending the country against an Islamist militant takeover. The Buddhist monks have called for a boycott of Muslim-owned businesses as well.
Nesirky also told AA that the UN secretary general "would support the idea that the states in the region need to step up actions to prevent such a tragedies."
He stressed that "this means regional cooperation and also looking at humanitarian needs and also protection -- so the people feel less inclined to jump in to boats."
Earlier Nesirky noted a special danger for those fleeing violence in boats, citing a UNHCR warning that the rainy season comes to an end and sailing season starts in earnest, more people could feel compelled to leave by boat, subjecting themselves to exploitation by smugglers.
Segregation toward Muslims becoming permanent
Last week the UN special rapporteur on the human rights in Myanmar Tomás Ojea Quintana told AA that segregation against Muslims was becoming "permanent".
"There is a pattern of discrimination against Rohingya Muslims but they were not segregated. They were living together in a Rokhan state with some other Buddhists. But the segregation now is becoming a permanent policy," Quintana said.
He added there are now camps for internally displaced persons set up for Muslims in which they are isolated without allowing them to go back to their land.Last Mod: 02 Kasım 2013, 11:00