UN probes escalating conflict and displacement in Rakhine

UN war crimes investigators said they were tracking the escalating fighting in conflict-torn Myanmar’s Rakhine State, and were probing reports that thousands from a persecuted minority had been displaced.

The United Nations’ Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) said in a statement on Thursday that it was closely following events unfolding on the ground in Rakhine and “assessing if crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed”.

Clashes have rocked Rakhine since the Arakan Army (AA) attacked junta forces in November, ending a ceasefire that had largely held since a military coup in 2021.

The AA says it is fighting for more autonomy for the ethnic Rakhine population in the state, which is also home to around 600,000 members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled Rakhine in 2017 during a crackdown by the military that is now the subject of a United Nations genocide court case.

“We are examining numerous reports of high intensity fighting between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army, including increased violence and the destruction of property in Buthidaung Township,” the IIMM said in a statement.

That violence, the team said, “has reportedly resulted in the displacement of thousands of mainly Rohingya civilians, and is also impacting on Rakhine and Hindu communities”.

The AA said it had seized Buthidaung last week, the latest victory it has claimed against the junta in Rakhine state. — AFP

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