Rohingya Asylum Seekers Not Going Hungry, UN Official Says

A UN official yesterday denied media reports that ethnic Ro­hingya asylum seekers in Cam­bodia are in dire need of food assistance.

“We personally visit the re­fu­gees and asylum seekers to pre­cisely assess their well-being,” said Cristina Planas, a special adviser to the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees in Bangkok.

“No such matter has been brought to my attention,” Ms Pla­nas said of the reported lack of food, adding that a UNHCR representative had visited the Roh­ingya refugees as recently as last week.

“We visit them. It’s not that we wait for the news to rain down on us,” she said.

An English-language report on June 7 from the Rohingya news agency Kaladan quoted asylum seekers as saying they are running out of food.

“As an asylum seeker, we are unable to work for survival,” Mohamed Tayub was quoted as saying. “If we are given refugee status we will get facilities, but now we are facing a food crisis.”

The group of 32 Rohingyas ar­rived in Cambodia in January and have since applied for asylum, according to Ms Planas.

“They have registered and ap­plied and interviewed with the government of Cambodia [ag­ency] that is responsible for processing their application, in the presence of the UNHCR,” she said.

Lieutenant General Khieu So­pheak, spokesman for the Mini­stry of Interior, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Persecution and human rights violations against Burma’s Roh­ingyas, which are an ethnic Mus­lim group, have persisted for the last 20 years, according to Human Rights Watch.

During those two decades, Rohingyas have fled to refugee camps in neighboring Bang­ladesh, and every year thousands are smuggled into other South­east Asian countries, ac­cording to the New York-based group.

In December, Cambodia de­ported to China a group of 20 Uighur asylum-seekers, which prompted criticism around the world.

 

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