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UN rejects Myanmar plan to expel Rohingya Muslims

Source : Agencies | 13 Jul 2012

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees on Thursday rejected a suggestion by Myanmar's president that Rohingya Muslims must be expelled from the country and sent to refugee camps run by the United Nations.

The former junta general said on Thursday that the "only solution" was to send nearly a million Rohingya Muslims - one of the world's most persecuted minorities -- to refugee camps run by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

"We will send them away if any third country would accept them," he added. "This is what we are thinking is the solution to the issue."

UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres told reporters it was not his agency's job to resettle the Rohingya, who live in western Myanmar but without Myanmar citizenship.

Clashes last month between Buddhist Rakhines and Muslin Rohingya left at least 78 people dead and tens of thousands homeless. The Rakhine consider the Rohingya to be illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

The government of Myanmar refuses to recognize them. They say the Rohingyas are not native and classify them as illegal migrants, although they have lived in Myanmar for generations.

"The resettlement programs organized by UNHCR are for refugees who are fleeing a country to another, in very specific circumstances. Obviously, it's not related to this situation," said Guterres.

The U.N. estimates there are about 800,000 Rohingya in Myanmar.