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US defence chief Mattis says Rohingya plight worse than media portrayals

More than 688,000 Muslim Rohingya and a few hundred Hindu Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since August 25 last year after the Myanmar military cracked down in the Rakhine state.

world Updated: Jan 23, 2018 19:27 IST
Reuters
Reuters
Reuters, Jakarta
Rohingya crisis,Bangladesh,Myanmar
US defence secretary Jim Mattis inspects a guard of honour during his welcome ceremony at the defence ministry in Jakarta before his meeting with President Joko Widodo on January 23, 2018.(AFP)

US defence secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday that the plight of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar was even worse than media portrayals.

More than 688,000 Muslim Rohingya and a few hundred Hindu Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since August 25 last year after the Myanmar military cracked down in the northern part of Rakhine state, amid witness reports of killings, looting and rape, in response to militant attacks on security forces.

“This is a tragedy that’s worse than anything that CNN or BBC has been able to portray about what has happened to these people,” Mattis said, speaking to reporters during a trip to Indonesia.

“And the United States has been engaged vigorously in the diplomatic realm trying to resolve this, engaged with humanitarian aid, a lot of money going into humanitarian aid.”

Many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar regard the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The United Nations described Myanmar’s crackdown as ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, which Myanmar denies.

First Published: Jan 23, 2018 19:27 IST