New UN envoy to travel to Myanmar next month

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


The new United Nations envoy for Myanmar will pay a first visit to Naypyidaw next month for talks on the Rohingya refugee crisis, UN sources said Wednesday.

Christine Schraner Burgener, who was Switzerland's ambassador to Germany before her appointment last month, will hold a first round of meetings in June following a Security Council visit to Myanmar.

At least 700,000 Muslim Rohingya have been driven out of Myanmar since an army operation was launched in Rakhine state in August. Britain, France, the United States and the UN have described the campaign as ethnic cleansing.

The Rohingya refugees are living in crowded camps in Bangladesh, but the United Nations is calling for their safe return to their homes in Rakhine.

Schraner Burgener, who also served as Swiss ambassador to Thailand from 2009 to 2015, was appointed in April following a monthslong search for an envoy who would be acceptable to Myanmar's government.

Myanmar has refused to allow a fact-finding mission set up by the UN Human Rights Council to enter the country, and has barred UN rights expert Yanghee Lee.

A UN source did not give specific dates for the visit, but said the government had agreed to it.

Schraner Burgener met Tuesday with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to discuss the Rohingya crisis.

The monsoon season is putting up to 200,000 Rohingya refugees at risk from flooding and landslides in the camps of Cox's Bazar, the United Nations has warned.

Myanmar has said the military operation in Rakhine is aimed at rooting out extremists, and maintains that the Rohingya are foreigners with no citizenship rights.