Turkish PM calls Rohingya killings in Myanmar ‘genocide’

Rohingya refugee children play at the Shamlapur refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh December 20, 2017. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (Reuters) – Turkey’s prime minister on Wednesday dubbed the killing of minority Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar by its security forces “genocide” and urged the international community to ensure their safety back home.

Binali Yildirim met several Rohingyas in two refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in neighboring Bangladesh.

Almost 870,000 Rohingya fled there, about 660,000 of whom arrived after Aug. 25, when Rohingya militants attacked security posts and the Myanmar army launched a counter-offensive.

“The Myanmar military has been trying to uproot Rohingya Muslim community from their homeland and for that they persecuted them, set fire to their homes, villages, raped and abused women and killed them,” Yildirim told reporters from Cox’s Bazar, before flying back to Turkey.

“It’s one kind of a genocide,” he said.

“The international community should also work together to ensure their safe and dignified return to their homeland,” Yildirim, who was accompanied by Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, said.

Surveys of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh by aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres have shown at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine state in the month after violence flared up on Aug. 25, MSF said last week.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has called the violence “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and said he would not be surprised if a court eventually ruled that genocide had taken place.

Yildirim inaugurated a medical camp at Balukhali, sponsored by Turkey, and handed over two ambulances to Cox’s Bazar district administration. He also distributed food to Rohingya refugees at Kutupalong makeshift camp.

He urged the international community to enhance support for Rohingyas in Bangladesh and help find a political solution to this humanitarian crisis.

U.N. investigators have heard Rohingya testimony of a “consistent, methodical pattern of killings, torture, rape and arson”.

The United Nations defines genocide as acts meant to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group in whole or in part. Such a designation is rare under international law, but has been used in contexts including Bosnia, Sudan and an Islamic State campaign against the Yazidi communities in Iraq and Syria.

Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s less than two-year old civilian government has faced heavy international criticism for its response to the crisis, though it has no control over the generals it has to share power with under Myanmar’s transition after decades of military rule.

Yildirim’s trip follows Turkish first lady Emine Erdogan’s visit in September to the Rohingya camp, when she said the crack down in Myanmar’s Rakhine state was “tantamount to genocide” and a solution to the Rohingya crisis lies in Myanmar alone.

(Reporting by Mohammad Nurul Islam; Editing by Malini Menon and Richard Balmforth)

U.N. envoy urges Security Council to visit Myanmar, Bangladesh

U.N. envoy urges Security Council to visit Myanmar, Bangladesh

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – A top U.N. official recounted to the Security Council on Tuesday “heartbreaking and horrific accounts of sexual atrocities” by Myanmar soldiers against Rohingya Muslim women, urging the body to visit the region and demand an end to attacks on civilians.

Pramila Patten, special envoy of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on sexual violence in conflict, said one woman told her she was held by Myanmar troops for 45 days and raped repeatedly, while another woman could no longer see out of one eye after it was bitten by a soldier during a sexual assault.

“Some witnesses reported women and girls being tied to either a rock or a tree before multiple soldiers raped them to death,” Patten told the Security Council.

“Some women recounted how soldiers drowned babies in the village well. A few women told me how their own babies were allegedly thrown in the fire as they were dragged away by soldiers and gang raped,” she said.

Patten said the 15-member Security Council should visit Myanmar – also known as Burma – and Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where more than 626,000 refugees have fled to since violence erupted in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State on Aug. 25.

She said that a Security Council resolution demanding an immediate end to violations against civilians in Rakhine state and outlining measures to hold the perpetrators accountable “would send an important signal.”

Myanmar’s army released a report last month denying all allegations of rapes and killings by security forces.

“This is unacceptable,” said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. “Burma must allow an independent, transparent and credible investigation into what has happened.”

“While we are hearing promises from the government of Burma, we need to see action,” she said.

Myanmar has been stung by international criticism for the way its security forces responded to Aug. 25 attacks by Rohingya militants on 30 security posts. Last month the Security Council urged the Myanmar government to “ensure no further excessive use of military force in Rakhine state.”

China’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Wu Haitao said the crisis had to be solved through an agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh and warned that any solution “reached under strong pressure from outside may ease the situation temporarily but will leave negative after effects.”

The two countries signed an agreement on voluntary repatriation Nov. 23. U.N. political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman pushed on Tuesday for the United Nations to be involved in any operation to return Rohingya.

“Plans alone are not sufficient. We hope Myanmar will draw upon the wealth of expertise the U.N. can offer,” Feltman told the Security Council.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Tom Brown)

Accused NYC bomber to formally face terrorism charges as soon as Wednesday

Accused NYC bomber to formally face terrorism charges as soon as Wednesday

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Bangladeshi man accused of attempting a suicide bombing in one of New York City’s busiest commuter hubs is expected to be formally charged as early as Wednesday with supporting a foreign terrorist organization and other crimes.

Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old supporter of the radical group Islamic State, will appear from Bellevue Hospital before a judge via video conference as soon as Wednesday, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office. He is recovering from injuries he suffered when his homemade bomb ignited but failed to detonate.

Three people suffered minor injuries when Ullah attempted to detonate a pipe bomb secured to his midsection in a pedestrian tunnel under the sprawling Port Authority transportation complex, where many commuters from New York’s suburbs arrive on buses and transfer to local subways.

Officials have declined to describe Ullah’s condition.

“I did it for the Islamic State,” Ullah told police who interviewed him after the blast, according to papers filed by federal prosecutors on Tuesday.

Ullah, who has lived in the United States since 2011, began his self-radicalization in 2014 when he started viewing pro-Islamic State materials online, prosecutors said. He carried out his attack because he was angry over U.S. policies in the Middle East, they said.

Inside Ullah’s passport, which was recovered from his home, were handwritten notes, including one that read, “O AMERICA, DIE IN YOUR RAGE.”

Bangladesh’s counter-terrorism chief told Reuters on Wednesday that his country had found no evidence linking the suspect to militants in his home country.

“We have collected evidence and information from his family members: his wife, father-in-law and mother-in-law,” Monirul Islam, head of the Bangladesh police’s counter-terrorism unit, said in an interview. “In Bangladesh we have not found any connection or have not been able to identify any of his associates who were or are involved with any terrorist groups.”

His attack was the latest inspired by militants to hit the largest U.S. city. In October an Uzbek immigrant killed eight people by racing a rental truck down a bike bath.

In October, an Afghan-born U.S. citizen was convicted of planting two bombs in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood in 2016, one of which exploded and wounded 30 people.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson and Daniel Trotta; Additional reporting by Krishna N. Das and Serajul Quadir in Dhaka; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Rohingya widows find safe haven in Bangladesh camp

Rohingya widows find safe haven in Bangladesh camp

By Damir Sagolj

COX’S BAZAR (Reuters) – Dawn hues of pink and purple reveal a dusty valley in Bangladesh’s southern hills quilted with a dense settlement of red tents home to more than 230 women and children grieving for lost husbands and fathers.

They are among more than 625,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh since late August, following a crackdown by the Myanmar military in response to attacks on security forces by Rohingya militants.

Roshid Jan, who walked for 10 days with her five children to Bangladesh after soldiers burned their village, wept when she spoke about her missing husband.

He was accused of being a member of the Rohingya militants and arrested with four other villagers 11 months ago, she said.

She had not seen him or heard about his fate since then.

Aisha Begum, a 19-year-old widow, said her husband was killed by Myanmar soldiers as their band of refugees headed for Bangladesh.

“I was sitting there by his body and just crying, crying, crying,” she said.

“He was caught and killed with knives. I found his body by the road. It was in three pieces,” she cried, recounting the events that brought her to the camp.

(Click http://reut.rs/2BHPPax for a photo essay)

Most Rohingya are stateless and seen as illegal immigrants by Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

The United Nations and United States have described the military’s actions as ethnic cleansing, and rights groups have accused the security forces of atrocities, including rape, arson and killings.

Myanmar’s government has denied most of the claims, and the army has said its own probe found no evidence of wrongdoing by troops.

There are 50 tents and no men in the camp for widows and orphans, the biggest of three sites built with donor funds from Muslim-majority Pakistan in the refugee settlement of Balukhali not far from Bangladesh’s resort town of Cox’s Bazar.

Two makeshift kitchens provide space for cooking in small holes in the ground, a new well is being dug to supplement a water pump, and a big tent serves for prayers.

“For those who can’t pray, we have learning sessions on Monday and Friday in a special room,” said 20-year-old Suwa Leha, who serves as the camp’s unofficial leader.

Praying and reading the Muslim holy book, the Koran, was one of two conditions for admittance set by religious and group leaders, Suwa said. The other was that widows and orphans be selected from among the most vulnerable and needy.

The camp is marooned amid ponds and streams of dirty water left by the washing of clothes and dishes. Behind are thousands of dwellings in a vast refugee camp that sprang up during the crisis.

Still, the women are relieved to have their own space.

“For those with no protection, a camp like this is much safer,” said 22-year-old Rabiya Khatun, who lives there with her son. “No man can enter that easily. Also, the rooms are bigger and we have more chances of receiving some aid.”

Women and girls number about 51 percent of the distressed and traumatized Rohingya population in the Cox’s Bazar camps, the U.N. Women agency said in October.

“Women and children are also at heightened risk of becoming victims of human trafficking, sexual abuse or child and forced marriage,” it added.

Women and adolescent girls aged between 13 and 20 arriving from Myanmar typically had two to four children each, it said, with some of them pregnant.

No relief agencies officially run the camp for the widows and orphans but aid groups and individuals help out.

Rihana Begum lives with her five children in a room that is bare except for a few tomatoes, some religious books and clothes. On a thin mat lies her daughter, ill with fever, but fear of missing food handouts keeps them away from the doctor.

“I’m afraid to miss aid distribution. I can’t afford to miss it,” she said on the day ration cards from the World Food Program were distributed in the camp.

This week, Myanmar said it was finalizing terms for a joint working group with Bangladesh to launch the process of safe and voluntary return of the Rohingya refugees within two months.

That may not be enough to allay Rihana Begum’s fears.

“I’m so afraid that I will never go back to Myanmar,” she said. “I would rather die here.”

(Reporting by Damir Sagolj; Writing by Clarence Fernandez; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

U.N. warns against any hasty returns of Rohingya to Myanmar

U.N. warns against any hasty returns of Rohingya to Myanmar

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – Peace and stability must be restored in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state before any Rohingyas can return from Bangladesh, under international standards on voluntary repatriation, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.

Some 20,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar to Bangladesh in November, and at least 270 so far in December, bringing the total since violence erupted on August 25 to 646,000, according to the UNHCR and International Organization of Migration (IOM).

The two countries have signed an agreement on voluntary repatriation which refers to establishing a joint working group within three weeks of the Nov. 23 signing. UNHCR is not party to the pact or involved in the bilateral discussions for now.

“It is critical that the returns are not rushed or premature,” UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told a briefing. “People can’t be moving back in into conditions in Rakhine state that simply aren’t sustainable.”

Htin Lynn, Myanmar’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, said on Tuesday that his government hoped returns would begin within two months. He was addressing the Human Rights Council, where the top U.N. rights official said that Myanmar’s security forces may be guilty of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

The UNHCR has not been formally invited to join the working group, although its Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Kelly Clements is holding talks in Bangladesh, Edwards said, adding that discussions were “still at a very preliminary stage”.

He could not say whether UNHCR was in talks with Myanmar authorities on its role, but hoped the agency would be part of the joint working group.

Edwards, asked whether the two-month time was premature, said: “The return timeline of course is something that we are going to have to look closely at … We don’t want to see returns happening either involuntarily or precipitously and before conditions are ready.”

In all, Bangladesh is hosting a total of more than 858,000 Rohingya, including previous waves, IOM figures show.

“We have had … a cycle of displacement from Rakhine state over many decades, of people being marginalized, of violence, of people fleeing and then people returning,” Edwards said.

“Now this cycle has to be broken, which means that we have to find a way to ensure that there is a lasting solution for these people.”

WFP spokeswoman Bettina Luescher said that it had distributed food to 32,000 people in northern Rakhine in November.

“Everybody agrees that the situation is very dire on ground, that all of the U.N. agencies need more access, that the violence has to stop and that these people can live in safety where they want to live,” she said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Larry King)

Rohingya refugees still fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh: UNHCR

Rohingya refugees still fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh: UNHCR

By Serajul Quadir

DHAKA (Reuters) – Rohingya refugees continue to flee Myanmar for Bangladesh even though both countries set up a timetable last month to allow them to start to return home, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR)said on Thursday.

The number of refugees appears to have slowed. 625,000 have arrived since Aug. 25. 30,000 came last month and around 1,500 arrived last week, UNHCR said

“The refugee emergency in Bangladesh is the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world,” said deputy high commissioner Kelly Clements. “Conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhaine state are not in place to enable a safe and sustainable return … refugees are still fleeing.”

“Most have little or nothing to go back to. Their homes and villages have been destroyed. Deep divisions between communities remain unaddressed and human access is inadequate,” she said.

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on Nov. 23 to start the return of Rohingya within two months. It did not say when the process would be complete.

Myanmar’s security forces may be guilty of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority, according to the top U.N. human rights official this week. Mainly Buddhist Myanmar denies the Muslim Rohingya are its citizens and considers them foreigners.

UNHCR would make a fresh appeal to donors for funds after the end of February in next year, Kelly said.

(Reporting By Serajul Quadir; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

Myanmar forces may be guilty of genocide against Rohingya, U.N. says

Myanmar forces may be guilty of genocide against Rohingya, U.N. says

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – Myanmar’s security forces may be guilty of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority, the United Nations’ top human rights official said on Tuesday, adding that more were fleeing despite an agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh to send them home.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that none of the 626,000 Rohingya who have fled violence since August should be repatriated to Myanmar unless there was robust monitoring on the ground.

Myanmar’s ambassador Htin Lynn said that his government was working with Bangladesh to ensure returns of the displaced in about two months and “there will be no camps”.

Zeid, who has described the campaign in the past as a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing”, was addressing a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva called by Bangladesh.

He described “concordant reports of acts of appalling barbarity committed against the Rohingya, including deliberately burning people to death inside their homes, murders of children and adults; indiscriminate shooting of fleeing civilians; widespread rapes of women and girls, and the burning and destruction of houses, schools, markets and mosques.”

“Can anyone – can anyone – rule out that elements of genocide may be present?” he told the 47-member state forum.

Zeid urged the Council to recommend that the U.N. General Assembly establish a new mechanism “to assist individual criminal investigations of those responsible”.

Prosecutions for the violence and rapes against Rohingya by security forces or by civilians “appear extremely rare”, Zeid said.

Marzuki Darusman, head of an independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar, said by video from Malaysia: “We will go where the evidence leads us…Our focus is on facts and circumstances of allegations in Myanmar as a whole since 2011.”

His team has interviewed Rohingya refugees including children in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, who recounted “acts of extreme brutality” and “displayed signs of severe trauma”, he said.

Myanmar has not granted the investigators access to Rakhine, the northern state from which the Rohingya have fled, he said. “We maintain hope that it will be granted early in 2018.”

Pramila Patten, special representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, who interviewed survivors in Bangladesh in November, said: “I heard the most heart-breaking and horrific accounts of sexual atrocities reportedly committed in cold blood out of a lethal hatred of these people solely on the basis of their ethnicity and religion”.

Crimes included “rape, gang rape by multiple soldiers, forced public nudity and humiliation, and sexual slavery in military captivity”, Patten said.

Myanmar denies committing atrocities against the Rohingya. Its envoy Htin, referring to the accounts, said: “People will say what they wanted to believe and sometimes they will say what they were told to say.”

The United Nations defines genocide as acts intended to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group in whole or in part. A U.N. convention requires all countries to act to halt genocide and to punish those responsible.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Peter Graff)

Bangladesh could move some Rohingya to flood-prone island next year: official

Bangladesh could move some Rohingya to flood-prone island next year: official

By Krishna N. Das and Serajul Quadir

DHAKA (Reuters) – Bangladesh could start relocating Rohingya Muslim refugees to a flood-prone island off its coast in the middle of next year, a government official said on Thursday, as it pushes ahead with the plan despite criticism from aid agencies and rights groups.

Densely populated Bangladesh has seen an influx of more than 620,000 Rohingya to its southern-most district of Cox’s Bazar, fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar, since August.

This week, it approved a $280 million plan to develop the low-lying Bhashan Char island to temporarily house some of them until they can go home.

The Bay of Bengal island, also known as Thenger Char, only emerged from the silt off Bangladesh’s delta coast about 11 years ago.

Two hours by boat from the nearest settlement, the island has no roads or buildings and it regularly floods during the rough seas of the June-September rainy season.

When the sea is calm, pirates roam the waters in the vicinity to kidnap fishermen for ransom.

“We can’t keep such a large number of people in this small area of Cox’s Bazar where their presence is having a devastating effect on the situation on the ground environmentally, population wise and economically,” H.T. Imam, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s political adviser, told Reuters on Thursday.

“So, as quickly as we can shift at least some of the burden over to Bhashan Char, that will minimize the problem.”

Rohingya have fled repression in Buddhist-majority Myanmar several times since the 1970s, and almost one most million of them live in crowded camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Mainly Muslim Bangladesh has said it aims to move about 100,000 refugees to the island.

Some aid officials speculate that by raising the island plan, Bangladesh could be trying to put pressure on the international community to find a better solution to the crisis.

But Imam, who holds the rank of cabinet minister, has denied any such tactic.

‘HUGE PROJECT’

He said the navy had started work on developing the island, money for which will come from the government.

Bangladesh, however, would need financial and other help from aid agencies to move the refugees to the island, he said.

“There are some organizations which have assured help but I won’t specify who they are,” Imam said.

“It’s a huge project and includes the development of livestock. They will be given cattle, they will be given land, they will be given houses. They will raise their livestock, there will be other vocations that will be created.”

Humanitarian agencies, however, have criticized the plan since it was first floated in 2015.

“Having opened its doors to more than 600,000 Rohingya over the past three months, the Bangladesh government now risks undermining the protection of the Rohingya and squandering the international goodwill it has earned,” said Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, referring to the plan to move people to the island.

“In its desperation to see the Rohingya leave the camps and ultimately return to Myanmar, it is putting their safety and well-being at risk.”

Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an accord last week on terms for the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, though rights groups have expressed doubts about Myanmar following through on the agreement and have called for independent observers for any repatriation.

There are concerns about protection for Rohingya from further violence if and when they go home, and about a path to resolving their legal status – most are stateless – and whether they would be allowed to return to their old homes.

Imam said Bangladesh was working on those issues but did not give details.

“In diplomacy, there are a lot of things that happen but then you don’t pronounce them publicly,” he said. “A lot of back-door diplomatic work is being done. People are involved at the highest level.”

For a graphic on Bangladesh’s Rohingya relocation plan, click http://tmsnrt.rs/2kULcWn

(Reporting by Krishna N. Das and Serajul Quadir; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Bangladesh to turn island into temporary home for 100,000 Rohingya refugees

Bangladesh to turn island into temporary home for 100,000 Rohingya refugees

By Ruma Paul

DHAKA (Reuters) – Bangladesh approved a $280 million project on Tuesday to develop an isolated and flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal to temporarily house 100,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in neighbouring Myanmar.

The decision came just days after Bangladesh sealed a deal aiming to start returning Rohingya to Myanmar within two months to reduce pressure in refugee camps.

A Bangladeshi government committee headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the plan to develop Bhashan Char island, also known as Thenger Char, despite criticism from humanitarian workers who have said the island is all but uninhabitable.

Planning Minister Mustafa Kamal said it would take time to repatriate the refugees, and in the meantime Bangladesh needed a place to house them. The project to house 100,000 refugees on the island would be complete by 2019, he said.

“Many Rohingya people are living in dire conditions,” he said, describing the influx of refugees as “a threat to both security and the environment”.

More than 620,000 Rohingya Muslims have sought sanctuary in Bangladesh after the military in mostly Buddhist Myanmar launched a harsh counter-insurgency operation in their villages across the northern parts of Rakhine State, following attacks by Rohingya militants on an army base and police posts on Aug. 25.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali appealed in September for international support to transport Rohingya to the island.

There were already about 300,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh before the most recent exodus.

Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest and most crowded nations, plans to develop the island, which emerged from the silt off Bangladesh’s delta coast only 11 years ago and is two hours by boat from the nearest settlement.

It regularly floods during the June-September monsoons. When seas are calm, pirates roam the nearby waters to kidnap fishermen for ransom. A plan to develop the island and use it to house refugees was first proposed in 2015 and revived last year. Despite criticism of the conditions on the island, Bangladesh says it has the right to decide where to shelter the growing numbers of refugees.

(Editing by Alison Williams)

U.N. rights forum to hold special session on Myanmar Rohingya – U.N. sources

U.N. rights forum to hold special session on Myanmar Rohingya - U.N. sources

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – The U.N. Human Rights Council is expected to hold a special session on killings, rapes and other crimes committed against Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar that have driven more than 600,000 into Bangladesh since August, U.N. sources said on Monday.

“There will be a special session on December 5,” a senior United Nations source told Reuters.

Council spokesman Rolando Gomez could not confirm the date but said: “There are moves to convene a special session to address the human rights situation in the country.”

At least 16 of the 47 member states must request holding a special session of the Council, which are rare. Bangladesh and Muslim-majority countries were expected to back the call.

In March, the Council already set up a fact-finding team. The investigators reported after their first mission to Bangladesh last month that Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar had testified that a “consistent, methodical pattern of killings, torture, rape and arson is taking place”.

The latest Rohingya exodus from Rakhine state to Bangladesh’s southern tip began at the end of August, when Rohingya militants attacked security posts and the Myanmar army launched a counter-offensive.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has described the army’s crackdown in Rakhine state as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. The military has denied the accusations of murder, rape, torture and forced displacement.

Amnesty International and other activist groups, in an open letter sent last week to member states, said that a special session was “imperative to launch decisive action and ensure international scrutiny and monitoring of the situation”.

Pope Francis arrived in Myanmar on Monday on a diplomatically delicate visit for the leader of the Roman Catholic church to the majority-Buddhist country.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Gareth Jones)