Rohingya people fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar will no longer be accepted as refugees in Bangladesh, the country's foreign secretary says. Shahidul Haque has informed the United Nations Security Council that Bangladesh will stop accepting Rohingya Muslim refugees because Myanmar has made "hollow promises" during discussions on returning some of the more than 1 million already in the country, the BBC reports. He urged the UN to set up "safe zones" inside Myanmar instead. Most of the refugees fled to Bangladesh in 2016 and 2017 amid military crackdowns and reports of widespread atrocities in Buddhist-majority Myanmar's Rakhine province, including massacres, rape, and the burning of villages. Around 16,000 crossed the border last year.
Envoys from countries including the US and UK also slammed Myanmar for failing to take steps that would allow refugees to return, the Guardian reports. The Myanmar government has failed to promise that Rohingya would be safe from violence or would be allowed to return to their original homes—or even that the minority would have a chance to regain the citizenship they were stripped of in 1974. "Not a single Rohingya has volunteered to return to Rakhine due to the absence of conducive environment there," Haque told the Security Council. "Is Bangladesh paying the price for being responsive and responsible in showing empathy to a persecuted minority population of a neighboring country?" He also blamed the international community for failing to work to resolve the crisis. (Last year, Amnesty International stripped Aung San Suu Kyi of the honor it had bestowed on her.)