13:31 GMT13 August 2020
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    A UN Security Council envoy said on Tuesday that Myanmar must conduct a "proper investigation" into alleged atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in its northwestern state of Rakhine.

    During the visit to both the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh and Myanmar's restive Rakhine state, from whence the Rohingya were driven, UK Ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce spoke to several women and girls who recounted their ordeals and pleaded for the UN's help.

    READ MORE: Bangladesh Has No Space to Resettle Rohingya Refugees — Foreign Minister

    According to Pierce, during the diplomatic visit to the conflict area, she experienced a "combination of enormous distress and sympathy for what those poor women and those poor children have been through and are still going through."

    "In order to have accountability, there must be a proper investigation," she told reporters in Naypyidaw, the capital city of Myanmar.

    On Monday, the delegation met Myanmar Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who heads a military accused by the UN of "ethnic cleansing."

    He told UN envoys that his forces hadn't committed rape and other sexual abuses against Rohingya Muslims during a crackdown on the minority launched late last August, despite consistent accounts of sexual violence and killings provided by Rohingya refugees.

    "It is unacceptable according to the culture and religion of our country," Myanmar's army chief said, adding that anyone found guilty of crimes would be punished.

    Hlaing also repeated the official line that Myanmar was ready to take back the refugees who could be verified as residents, according to a repatriation deal with Bangladesh.

    Following a military crackdown on Rohingya living in the Rakhine state in Myanmar last year, over 620,000 refugees have crossed the border into Bangladesh and settled in camps set up along the border.

    Bangladesh and Myanmar reached a deal on the repatriation of refugees in November 2017. The process was delayed several times, as many refugees opposed being transferred back to Myanmar over concerns for their safety.


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