Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday proposed creating “safe zones” inside Myanmar, supervised by the United Nations, to protect the Rohingya Muslims who are fleeing violence in Rakhine state, AFP reported. According to the international body, more than 4,20,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since August 25, when fresh violence erupted in Myanmar.

“These people must be able to return to their homeland in safety, security and dignity,” Hasina told the UN General Assembly.

She also called on the international community to take immediate measures to find a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis. She further urged the UN to send a fact-finding mission to Myanmar. The Bangladeshi leader demanded the full implementation of the Kofi Annan Commission report that recommends citizenship for the Rohingyas.

“I have come here just after seeing the hungry, distressed and hopeless Rohingyas from Myanmar who took shelter in Cox’s Bazar,” Hasina said. “These forcibly displaced people of Myanmar are fleeing an ‘ethnic cleansing’ in their own country where they have been living for centuries.”

The Bangladeshi prime minister accused the security forces of Myanmar of laying landmines on the border to prevent the refugees from returning. She called on the Myanmar government to end the violence in Rakhine state “immediately and forever”.

“We do not want war. We want peace. We want people’s well-being – not destruction of humanity,” Hasina said, adding that Bangladesh maintains zero tolerance against terrorism and extremism.

The Rohingya crisis

Rohingyas have been denied citizenship in Myanmar, and are classified as illegal immigrants, despite them claiming roots going back centuries in the country. The community has been subjected to violence by the Buddhist majority and the Army in Myanmar. The country’s de-facto leader and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticised for failing to stand up for more than 10 lakh stateless Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine.