UN official: Myanmar violence precludes return of Rohingya

The senior U.N. official for human rights says it is impossible to send Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh safely back to Myanmar because it appears that widespread and systematic violence against them inside Myanmar, amounting to ethnic cleaning, is continuing.

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour said in a statement Tuesday that during a four-day visit to Bangladesh, refugees told him "credible accounts of continued killings, rape, torture and abductions, as well as forced starvation" in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine. Myanmar's government denies such abuses and announced in January that it was ready to accept the refugees back.

Some 700,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar to Bangladesh since late August, when Myanmar security forces began sweeps though Rakhine after Rohingya insurgent attacks.