United Nations chief António Guterres visited Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh on Monday, declaring that “nothing could have prepared me for the scale of the crisis and extent of suffering” he witnessed there.
The UN Secretary-General was in Cox’s Bazar, where close to one million mainly Muslim-minority Rohingya have sought refuge – the majority fleeing across the border from homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, since late last August.
In a message on Twitter, Mr. Guterres said that he had heard “heartbreaking accounts from Rohingya refugees that will stay with me forever.”
Following attacks on police outposts by Rohingya militants last year, Myanmar government and military forces carried out brutal reprisals which the UN described as tantamount to ethnic cleansing.
The UN chief said during his visit to the vast Kutapalong Camp, that their safety during the monsoon season was “priority one. We cannot allow the monsoons to wash away the hopes of the Rohingya refugees I met today in Bangladesh.”
Mr Guterres was accompanied by the World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, which on Friday announced nearly $500m in grant-based support to help Bangladesh address the needs of refugees. The head of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi was also there, along with the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund, UNFPA, Natalia Kanem.
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