Geneva, May 21 (IANS/AKI) United Nations refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi began a five-day visit to Myanmar on Monday – his first since August 2017 when a deadly military crackdown drove some 741,000 minority Rohingya Muslims to flee the country’s western Rakhine state for neighbouring Bangladesh.
Grandi is scheduled to spend the first two days of his trip in Rakhine state, where he will visit communities in Sittwe and the northern townships and will meet state and district officials, according to a UNHCR press-release.
He is scheduled meet senior Myanmar government officials in the capital Nay Pyi Taw later in the week, the statement said.
Grandi will follow up on a range of issues raised by refugees from Myanmar (also known as Burma) and will review the country’s efforts to find “comprehensive and durable solutions to the crisis in Rakhine State,” the statement said.
A UN fact-finding mission last week repeated a call for top Myanmar generals to be prosecuted for abuses against the Rohingya Muslim minority, in which security forces are accused of killings, gang rape and arson in Rakhine after attacks on police posts by Rohingya insurgents in August 2017.
Myanmar has rejected most of the accusations and dismissed a report last September by a UN-appointed panel, which accused military officers of “genocidal intent” in the crackdown on the Rohingya and said they should stand trial.
Grandi in late April visited Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, where over 900,000 stateless Rohingya refugees currently live in Cox’s Bazar. Overcrowded, insanitary, makeshift settlements and inadequate healthcare services put refugees in Cox’s Bazaar at risk of disease outbreaks, according to the UN and charities such as Doctors without Borders.