Yangon: The United Nations began work yesterday inside Myanmar's violence-torn northern Rakhine state, the first time its agencies have been granted permission to operate there since more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled the area last year.
The U.N. has been waiting for access to the epicenter of the military's "clearance operations" against the Rohingya minority since June when its refugee and development agencies signed a deal with the government.
On Friday, specialists from the UNHCR and UNDP agencies were finally given permission to enter northern Rakhine before work began on Wednesday to assess local conditions. "The team is on the ground and commenced with the first assessments today," UNHCR spokeswoman Aoife McDonnell said.
The deployment of the two U.N. agencies comes as Myanmar faces growing demands for accountability over its treatment of the Rohingya.
A U.N.-led report last week two weeks ago called for the prosecution of army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and five other top-ranking generals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. That was swiftly followed by a ruling by the International Criminal Court (ICC) that it has jurisdiction to open a probe into "deportations" of the Rohingya, saying it was a cross-border crime. Myanmar is not a signatory of the statute underpinning the tribunal and has rejected the remit of the court. The move could potentially lead to a wider probe and an eventual trial.