Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

Rohingya must be allowed to return to their homes, warns Boris Johnson

Rohingya must be allowed to return to their homes, warns Boris Johnson

He left for Myanmar in the afternoon and will hold talks with de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss the crisis and press for the end to the suffering in Rakhine and the safe and voluntary return of the refugees.

The refugees also narrated to the United Kingdom minister the challenges they were facing in the camps.

Almost 700,000 Rohingya have fled the area since last August, carrying stories of atrocities at the hands of troops and vigilante groups in the Buddhist-majority country.

The Foreign Secretary on Saturday toured a camp which is housing 500,000 refugees - equivalent to a city the size of Leicester, his office said in a statement.

"As with other, previous reports of mass graves, this report highlights the ongoing and urgent need for Burmese authorities to cooperate with an independent, credible investigation into allegations of atrocities in northern Rakhine", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

The UK's foreign secretary told reporters the charred homes of devastated Rohingya villages were like nothing he had seen before in his life, after visiting refugee camps in Bangladesh and northern Rakhine state in Myanmar.

The minister has delivered a speech involving the necessity of finding a solution for the issue following his meeting with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali.

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Almost 690,000 Rohingya have fled Rakhine and crossed into southern Bangladesh since August, when attacks on security posts by rebels triggered a military crackdown that the United Nations has said may amount to genocide.

But aid agencies have expressed fears at their safety, and at the slow progress, with only 1,500 expected to return per week.

Johnson met with the embattled Myanmar leader, whose reputation among the worldwide community has crumbled over her handling of the Rohingya crisis, in the capital Naypyidaw while on a four-day Asian tour.

Mr Johnson will also meet the chair of the Advisory Board on the Rakhine Advisory Commission, Surakiart Sathirathai.

The account marked the first time soldiers and paramilitary police have been implicated by testimony from security personnel in arson and killings in the north of Rakhine state that the United Nations has said may amount to genocide.

Britain is one of the biggest direct donors of aid for the humanitarian effort to help the refugees.

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