UN asks India, Saudi Arabia not to deport Rohingya

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A top UN official on Friday urged Saudi Arabia and India not to deport members of the persecuted Rohingya community to Bangladesh but instead to grant them refugee status.

"I am dismayed by Saudi Arabia's recent deportation of 13 Rohingya to Bangladesh," said Yanghee Lee, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, at a news briefing in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka.

Lee briefed reporters on her weeklong visit to Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar district and Bhasan Char island in southern Bangladesh.

She expressed concern over reported arrests of Rohingya by Saudi authorities.

"These people have fled persecution in Myanmar and should be treated properly."

Referring to India's attempt to push Rohingya across the border, she said: "I am disturbed to see the Rohingya arrival in Bangladesh from India".

At least 1,300 Rohingya Muslims have reportedly crossed into Bangladesh from India since the start of the year fearing forced deportation to Myanmar.

She also urged formal education for Rohingya children in Bangladesh.

Criticizing Myanmar's unresponsive attitude to concerns of the international community, Lee said: "It is clear the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh cannot return to Myanmar in the near future. The [general] election of Bangladesh has concluded. I urge the government to engage in a long-term planning [in addressing the Rohingya crisis]."

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar's state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar's army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.

In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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