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Rohingya calls for security as UN lawyer visits camps in Bangladesh

#Rohingya #calls #security #lawyer #visits #camps #Bangladesh

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh on Tuesday begged the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner for protection after recent killings that have renewed members of the stateless minority fearing for their safety.

Michelle Bachelet spent the day meeting with residents of the sprawling and derelict relief settlements home to nearly a million ethnic Rohingya who have fled persecution in neighboring Myanmar.

Security in the camps came back into focus this month when two leaders of the refugee community were allegedly shot dead by an insurgent group active in the camps.

“She wanted to know about murders in the camps. We talked about it and also talked about camp security,” religious leader Maulvi Zafar told AFP by phone after meeting the envoy.

“We talked about strengthening camp security. We called for security.”

Most residents of the camps fled Myanmar in 2017 after an army offensive against the predominantly Muslim minority.

The crackdown is now the subject of a case before the United Nations’ highest court accusing the Myanmar authorities of genocide.

Security in the camps was a constant concern, with numerous killings, kidnappings, and police flags targeting drug trafficking networks.

Last September, leading Rohingya leader Mohib Ullah, known for organizing a protest by some 100,000 refugees to celebrate two years after their exodus, was assassinated.

That year he also met then-US President Donald Trump at the White House and spoke at a UN meeting in Geneva.

His killing was quickly followed by the killing of six Rohingya students and teachers at an Islamic religious school.

Camp residents blamed both attacks — and the two killings earlier this month — on the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, an insurgent group accused of drug trafficking and the killing of political opponents.

Bangladesh Refugee Commissioner Shah Rezwan Hayat told AFP Bachelet had asked about reports of violence in the camps, but added that “every possible measure has been taken by the government” to improve security.

He said she also asked about education and livelihood opportunities for the Rohingya, and he replied that the government would gradually expand schooling for all refugee children in the camps.

Bachelet is in Bangladesh on a four-day visit before her term as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ends later this month.

She is scheduled to address the media in the capital Dhaka on Wednesday.

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