World

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi slams misinformation over Rohingya crisis

Myanmar leader blames 'terrorists' for harming its international standing, as she avoids talk of Rohingya exodus

BANGLADESH Nearly 150,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh in less than two weeks, officials said yesterday after the United Nations chief warned there is a risk of ethnic cleansing that could destabilise the wider region.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi blamed "terrorists" for "a huge iceberg of misinformation" on the violence in Rakhine state, but she made no mention of the exodus of Rohingya since violence broke out there on 
Aug 25.

She has come under increasing pressure from countries with Muslim populations, including Indonesia, where thousands led by Islamic groups held a rally in Jakarta yesterday to demand that diplomatic ties with Buddhist-majority Myanmar be cut.

In a rare letter to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern that the violence in Rakhine could spiral into a "humanitarian catastrophe".

Reuters reporters in the impoverished Cox's Bazar region of neighbouring Bangladesh have witnessed boatloads of exhausted Rohingya arriving.

According to the latest estimates issued by UN workers in Cox's Bazar, arrivals in just 12 days stood at 146,000.

This brought to 233,000 the total number of Rohingya who have sought refuge in Bangladesh since last October.

Newly arrived Rohingya told the authorities that three boats carrying among them more than 100 people capsized in the early hours yesterday. Coast guard Commander M.S. Kabir said six bodies, including three children, has since washed ashore.

The surge of refugees - many sick or wounded - has strained the resources of aid groups already helping hundreds of thousands from previous spasms of violence in Myanmar. Many refugees have no shelter, and aid agencies are racing to provide clean water, sanitation and food.

"People have come with virtually nothing, so there has to be food," a UN source working there said. "Where is this food coming from for at least the elderly, the children, the women who have come over without their husbands?"

Ms Suu Kyi spoke by telephone on Tuesday with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has pressed world leaders to do more to help a population of roughly 1.1 million that he says are facing genocide.

DEFEND

In a Facebook statement issued by her office, Ms Suu Kyi said the government had "already started defending all the people in Rakhine in the best way possible" and warned against misinformation that could mar relations with other countries.

She referred to Twitter images of killings posted by Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister that he later deleted because they were not from Myanmar.

Those images were "simply the tip of a huge iceberg of misinformation" calculated to create problems between countries..." her office said.- REUTERS

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