Myanmar army chief urges internally displaced to return to Rakhine

Marzuki Darusman said his United Nations team was still trying to get Myanmar's permission to enter the country, but was gathering evidence from refugees and medics in the border town of Cox's Bazar in neighbouring Bangladesh.

Foreign aid groups said that made them a target of local hostility - and many have reined in or stopped their operations for safety reasons.

Myanmar's de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi on September 19 made her first national address on the recent Rohingya crisis, in which more than 400,000 refugees have fled to Bangladesh since August 25.

Civilians crossing the border say the army and Buddhist vigilantes went wild to kill Muslims and torch their homes in the Rakhine state.

Stranded after their villages burned to the ground, many Rohingya Muslims left inside Rakhine are in especially desperate need of aid.

Apart from this, nearly all other countries have assured of assistance to the refugees, most of whom are women and children, he said.

Though Myanmar's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, told diplomats this week humanitarian assistance was being sent to those who remain in northern Rakhine, the government has blocked all United Nations assistance to the area, granting access to only the Red Cross.

Bangladesh has seen a massive influx of Rohingya people fleeing brutal violence in Myanmar in the last two weeks.

The United States is providing an additional almost $32 million in humanitarian assistance to address the urgent needs of Rohingya fleeing violence from Rakhine State, Burma to Bangladesh, as well as internally displaced persons in Rakhine State, and host communities in Bangladesh.

Smuggling desperate Rohingya refugees to places such as Thailand and Malaysia has been a major issue in the past in Bangladesh.

Rajnath Singh said despite concerns, India provided humanitarian aid to Bangladesh to deal with the Rohingya crisis. Our first attempt should be: to speak to the Myanmar government to ensure that conditions improve in Rakhine state, where most of the Rohingyas live.

Rohingyas are minority Muslims in western Myanmar and have been fleeing their homes following an army crackdown on their villages that has left hundreds dead.

The leader has asked for patience from the worldwide community, refuting claims that more than half of the Rohingya villages had been destroyed. "None among them has followed that procedure".

Speaking further, Anifah said, the perpetrators who had committed crimes against humanity must be held accountable and be brought to justice.

The $32 million brings the total the USA has given in humanitarian aid for Myanmar refugees and related issues this budget year to roughly $95 million.

  • Leroy Wright