Un security council delegation visiting northern rakhine wftv z gas ensenada

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UN Security Council delegation seeks Rohingya’s safe return NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (AP) – A U.N. Security Council delegation on Tuesday visited Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled military-led violence, and urged the government to improve the security conditions for the return of the refugees.

State television showed the ambassadors touring the border area. Travelling by helicopter, they visited two villages, one transit center and one reception camp, where refugees who return will initially be housed. They also met with members of different groups affected by the violence, including Rakhine Buddhists, Hindus and some Muslims who did not flee.

At a news conference in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw, before flying out of the country, the ambassadors reminded Myanmar’s government of its obligations as a member of the United Nations. The envoys represent the 15 countries making up the Security Council, the U.N.’s most powerful body.

"We are not asking Myanmar government something new. They are a member of the United Nations and they are a member and state party to many U.N. conventions. The return of refugees should be in conformity with international standards," said Kuwait’s representative, Mansour Al-Otaibi.

In its counterinsurgency sweeps in Rakhine state after the attacks last August on security personnel, Myanmar’s military was accused of massive human rights violations, including rape, killing, torture, and the burning of Rohingya homes, that U.N. and U.S. officials have called ethnic cleansing. Thousands are believed to have died.

The Rohingya face official and social discrimination in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, which denies most of them citizenship and basic rights because they are looked on as immigrants from Bangladesh, even though many settled in Myanmar generations ago.

"Basically the message we convey is it is very important to improve the security conditions for the return of the refugees, and also collaboration with the international organization, particularly the United Nations," said Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, ambassador of Peru. "And we also mentioned the importance of the investigation regarding what happened here before the refugees went to Bangladesh."

The U.N. refugee agency and Bangladesh recently finalized a memorandum of understanding that said the repatriation process must be "safe, voluntary and dignified, in line with international standards." The Security Council delegation has asked Myanmar’s government to sign the memorandum as well.

"We believe that if the memorandum of understanding can be signed quickly and the U.N. agencies given unconditional access, that would be the best thing to do with the scale of the problem," said Karen Pierce, Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations.

Pierce parried a journalist’s question about whether the U.N. should make a referral to the International Criminal Court to investigate the atrocities alleged to have been carried out by Myanmar security forces, acknowledging only that it could be one avenue of investigation.

In New York, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq noted at a briefing that around 500,000 Rohingya still live in Rakhine, "facing continued discrimination and marginalization, including around 130,000 men, women and children who are trapped in appalling conditions in camps."

Myanmar’s government agreed to allow the Security Council to visit after previously rejecting U.N. requests for a trip by a specially appointed independent fact-finding committee. The team said in March that it found evidence of human rights violations against the Kachin, Shan and Rohingya minorities "in all likelihood amounting to crimes under international law."