In a write-up published in The Washington Post on Wednesday, the UN secretary general has recounted the ordeal and the bone-chilling experiences he heard from Rohingya refugees who had fled widespread killings in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and sought refuge in Bangladesh.
“Small children butchered in front of their parents. Girls and women gang-raped while family members were tortured and killed. Villages burned to the ground,” Guterres wrote.
“These victims of what has been rightly called ethnic cleansing are suffering an anguish that can only stir a visitor’s heartbreak and anger. Their horrific experiences defy comprehension, yet they are the reality for nearly one million Rohingya refugees.”
Guterres wrote that systematic human rights abuses by the security forces in Myanmar over the past year were designed to instill terror in the Rohingya population, leaving them with a dreadful choice: Stay on in fear of death or leave everything simply to survive.
Describing Rohingya as the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis, he applauded people and the government of Bangladesh for their humanity shown by opening their borders and hearts to the Rohingyas, while larger and wealthier countries around the world are closing doors to outsiders.
However, he stressed the need of a global response to the crisis, adding a Global Compact on Refugees is on the way by UN member states to help Bangladesh in responding to a fleeing wave of humanity.
“Expressions of solidarity are not enough; the Rohingya people need genuine assistance.”
An international humanitarian appeal for almost $1 billion is funded at only 26 percent – a shortfall causing malnutrition, lack of access to water and sanitation and basic education and of course inadequate measures to combat monsoon risks, according to the UN secretary general.
He urged Myanmar to create the conditions for the return of the refugees with full rights and the promise of living in safety and dignity.
“Unless the root causes of the violence in Rakhine state are addressed comprehensively, misery and hatred will continue to fuel conflict. The Rohingya people cannot become forgotten victims. We must answer their clear appeals for help with action,” Guterres pointed out.