Burma: Former UN Sec Gen Kofi Annan to help govt resolve Rohingya issue
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Burma: Former UN Sec Gen Kofi Annan to help govt resolve Rohingya issue

FORMER U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has been tasked with heading an advisory panel set up by Burma’s (Myanmar) government to find “lasting solutions” to the conflict in Rakhine state.

A statement by the office of de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday said an agreement will be signed between her office and the Kofi Annan Foundation to set up a nine-member advisory commission to resolve “protracted issues in the region.”

The council will comprise of three international and six national experts.

Sectarian violence, which erupted in 2012, has seen dozens of Muslim Rohingyas killed by vigilante mobs comprising hardline Buddhist nationalist groups and followers, with thousands more displaced.

Human rights groups have also documented widespread abuses against the minority Rohingya Muslims.

SEE ALSO: One year on from Rohingya boat crisis: Human rights groups call for action

Rohingya Muslims have lived in the northwestern Rakhine state for generations but are denied citizenship because they are considered outsiders. More than 100 people, mostly Rohingya, were killed in clashes with the Buddhist majority in 2012.

Many Buddhists inside Burma prefer to call them ‘Bengalis’, arguing that the million or so members of the minority are mostly illegal immigrants and not a native ethnic group.

According to the Associated Press, the closest the government came to acknowledging the Rohingya was by saying that the commission will “examine international aspects of the situation, including the background of those seeking refugee status abroad.”

The office said the commission will “consider humanitarian and development issues, access to basic services, the assurance of basic rights, and the security of the people of Rakhine.”

The commission will make recommendations on conflict prevention, humanitarian assistance, rights and reconciliation, institution building and promotion of development of Rakhine state.

Burma: US envoy says Muslim minority has a right to call themselves ‘Rohingya’

The commission, the AP reported, will submit its findings and recommendations within 12 months of its establishment.

The recommendations will be given to Suu Kyi, who holds the dual titles of state counselor and foreign minister.

Every year, tens of thousands of Rohingya, who are known as among some of the most persecuted minorities in the world, flee Burma and make perilous journeys in rickety boats to seek refuge in other Southeast Asian countries. Many have perished in their pursuit of better lives, while others fall victim to human traffickers.

Additional reporting from the Associated Press