SHAFAQNA – The United Nations has warned that persecuted Rohingya Muslims continue to live in “dreadful conditions” despite promises by the election-winning opposition party to protect the rights of the minority in the Southeast Asian country.
John Ging, director of operations at the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), made the remarks on Tuesday after paying a visit to western Rakhine state, where Rohingya Muslims have faced violent attacks by Buddhist majority as well as discrimination.
Some 140,000 displaced Rohingya Muslims live in camps after their villages were torched down in 2012.
Ging said he was shocked to see the conditions of the temporary shelters as many of them were on the verge of collapse, adding that many of the Rohingya Muslims were denied medical treatment because of their religion.
“It was heartbreaking to see so many children in these dreadful conditions. One mother told me that her baby, less than a month old, died from lack of oxygen in December after she was denied access to treatment at the nearby township hospital,” the UN official said.
This came while Myanmar’s opposition party, National League for Democracy, won last November’s parliament elections. The party leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said she will protect Muslims in the country.
The UNOCH also said in an accompanying statement that the Muslim minority “must not be forgotten” following the votes.
“Myanmar is going through an impressive democratic transformation, which is unlocking significant economic growth and development. However, not everyone in Myanmar is benefiting in this transition,” the statement added.
Over 1.3 million Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar face discrimination, including controls on their movements, family size and access to jobs.
In recent years, a large number of Rohingya Muslims have been killed and thousands displaced in attacks by extremist Buddhists, especially in Rakhine State.
Myanmar denies full citizenship to Rohingya population in the country. According to the United Nations, Rohingya Muslims are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
The violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has triggered an influx of refugees into neighboring countries, namely Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.