The UN is recalling its top humanitarian official in Myanmar after allegations she is discouraging action to resolve the Rohingya Muslim crisis, Canadian media reported Thursday.
Some have accused Canadian Renata Lok-Dessallien and her UN team of trying to prevent the issue from being properly addressed.
British media was reportedly told by sources the UN resident and humanitarian co-ordinator and her team have isolated staff who want to discuss the Rohingya minority issue at high-level meetings.
But on the UN’s website, the departure does not mention the accusations, which have not been proven, or that Lok-Dessallien is being recalled, giving the appearance it was her own decision to leave the post.
“The UN resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Renata Lok-Dessallien announced today (Oct. 11) that she will be completing her assignment after nearly four years in Myanmar,” according to a statement on the website. “(She) will use her remaining time until the end of the month to further the UN system’s efforts to promote peace and security (and) to urge for the end of violence in the northern townships of Rakhine State.”
Since Aug. 25, 519,000 Rohingya have crossed Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.
Refugees are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. Approximately 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown, according to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali,
Turkey has been at the forefront of providing aid to Rohingya refugees and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised the issue at the UN.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.
The removal of Lok-Dessallien follows a vote of confidence less than two weeks ago by UN Secretary General-General Antonio Guterres and a UN statement that defended her as a “tireless advocate for human rights, conflict prevention, and humanitarian and development assistance" in Rakhine.
There has been no announcement of a replacement for Lok-Dessallien.
Amid the news, the U.S. UN envoy urged "all sides to end violence immediately" during a meeting with U Thaung Tun, Myanmar's National Security Advisor.
Nikki Haley "appealed for Burma to facilitate the safe, dignified return of all those displaced as quickly as possible and called for humanitarian access to all affected by the violence," the U.S. mission to the UN said in a statement that used the U.S. government's preferred name for Myanmar.
Haley "urged Burma to hold security officials and others found responsible for offenses against all affected communities accountable for their actions", the U.S. mission said.
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