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Iran prepares 40 tonnes worth of aid for Myanmar Rohingya Muslims

Iranian officials have repeatedly condemned the massive security operations by the Myanmar army [AFP]

Date of publication: 8 September, 2017

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Iran's Red Crescent said it has prepared an aid package for Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims as they flee a crackdown by security forces, local media reported.
Iran's Red Crescent has prepared an aid package for Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims as they continued to flee a crackdown by security forces, local media reported.

A plane-load of aid weighing 40 tonnes and worth around four billion rials (just over $100,000) will be sent to the violence-hit state, the charity said. 

"An emergency, food, life support and hygiene package has been prepared by the Red Crescent to be sent to Myanmar," said the head of the organisation, Morteza Salimi, according to the ISNA news agency.

The package would be "immediately sent to the oppressed people of this country if we receive authorisation from Myanmar," he said, adding it had been ordered by President Hassan Rouhani.

Iranian officials have repeatedly condemned the massive security operations by the Myanmar army that followed a series of deadly ambushes by Rohingya militants on August 25.

The United Nations says 270,000 refugees have so far fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.

"International community has no excuse to allow the genocide of Rohingya Muslims (to) continue in front of our eyes," tweeted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later in the day.

"We must act now before it's too late."

Iran's ambassador to the UN, Gholam Ali Khoshrou, also said he was working to bring together ministers and diplomats from several Islamic countries to discuss the issue.

"I have had numerous contacts with ambassadors of Islamic countries in recent days and it was decided to form a group at the ambassadorial and ministerial levels," he said, according to state news agency IRNA

He said he hoped the group could meet in New York when the UN General Assembly convenes next week.

"Everyone must make an effort to stop this human catastrophe," he said.

More than a thousand dead

The comments came as the UN said the violence against the minority Rohingya Muslims killed more than 1,000 - more than twice the government's total.

On the basis of witness testimonies and the pattern of previous outbreaks of violence, said Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, "perhaps about a thousand or more are already dead".

"This might be from both sides but it would be heavily concentrated on the Rohingya population."

The Rohingya have long been subjected to discrimination in mostly Buddhist Myanmar, which regards them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship even if they have lived in the country for generations.

Bangladesh has struggled to cope with the latest influx, which takes the number of Rohingya refugees in camps on its border with Myanmar to around 670,000.

Of these, nearly 357,000 - a third of Myanmar's total Rohingya population - have left since October when the latest upsurge in violence began.

Scores of Rohingya have drowned trying to make the perilous sea journey in boats that the Bangladesh authorities say are woefully inadequate at this time of year, when the sea is rough. Many of the dead were children.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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