A United Nations official has accused Myanmar of aiming for an ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, BBC reported. The regional head of the UN Refugee Agency John McKissick said the country’s security personnel have been killing members of the community in Rakhine state, compelling many to flee to Bangladesh. The government, however, has dismissed allegations of atrocities on the minority community.

“Security forces have been killing men, shooting them, slaughtering children, raping women, burning and looting houses, forcing these people to cross the river,” into Bangladesh, McKissick said, adding that the situation had put Bangladesh in a predicament as a declaration of an open border would encourage the Myanmar government to “push them out until they have achieved their ultimate goal of ethnic cleansing”.

The problem should be addressed within the country with a “focus on the root cause”, McKissick said, adding that Myanmar treats Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and does not acknowledge their rights as an official ethnic group. The UN official further accused Myanmar’s security forces of engaging in “collective punishment” of the community after a Rohingya militant group was accused of murdering nine border guards on October 9.

Moreover, the country’s defacto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has also been criticised for not doing enough to resolve the Rohingya crisis. More than a lakh of them have been housed in temporary camps since violence against them increased in 2012. Access to the troubled Rakhine state has also been blocked to journalists and aid workers, according to the BBC report.