September 24, 2018 / 7:08 PM / 3 months ago

U.S. almost doubles aid for Rohingya in Bangladesh, Myanmar

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States almost doubled its aid for displaced Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh and Myanmar, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced on Monday as she pushed for U.N. investigators to brief the U.N. Security Council on the crisis.

FILE PHOTO: A Rohingya refugee child looks at the vill from a hill at Unchiparang refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

A Myanmar military crackdown in the western state of Rakhine last year after attacks by Rohingya militants on police and army posts drove more than 700,000 of the largely stateless minority across the border with Bangladesh.

U.N.-mandated investigators have said the military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya with “genocidal intent.” Myanmar rejected the findings as “one-sided” and said it was a legitimate counterinsurgency operation.

“The military are at fault, the fact finding mission came out and gave clear examples of what’s happened,” Haley told reporters on Monday as she left a ministerial meeting in New York on the sidelines of the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders. “These weren’t terrorists. This was the military that did this to them. These people just want a place to live.”

The Myanmar mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment after the meeting.

A U.S. government investigation report, reviewed by Reuters, has found that the military waged a planned, coordinated campaign of mass killings, gang rapes and other atrocities against the Rohingya, but it stopped short of describing the crackdown as genocide or crimes against humanity.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian hosted the closed-door ministerial meeting on the crisis, which diplomats said focussd on accountability.

“It’s time for the international community to move. I did also request the French and the British that I think we need to bring the fact finding mission and have that reported in the Security Council,” Haley said.

She said the United States would give an extra $185 million (141.1 million pounds) in humanitarian aid, of which $156 million would go to refugees and host communities in Bangladesh, taking its total for the crisis to nearly $389 million in the past year.

Haley had said last week that U.S. President Donald Trump would “lay down a marker” on U.S. foreign aid during his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday and that Washington would not be generous to countries “that try and stop the U.S. or say they hate America.”

About 16 countries plus the EU and top U.N. officials attended the meeting in New York on Monday, diplomats said.

“It was a constructive meeting, but let’s see,” Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Pororashtrya Montri told Reuters, adding that the U.N. report should be the basis for accountability.

Hunt visited Myanmar last week and said the government must ensure there is “no hiding place” for those responsible for crimes. Myanmar’s army chief on Monday warned against foreign interference.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has begun examining allegations of forced deportation of Rohingya to Bangladesh. Myanmar has said it wants to repatriate Rohingya who fled.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols and David Brunnstrom; editing by Grant McCool

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