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Myanmar UNHCR Rohingyas

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UN aims to give all 'stateless' people nationality by 2024

Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at Sittwe airport after visiting Maungdaw in the state of Rakhine November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has released a report calling for all stateless people to be given nationality by the country in which they were born.

In “This is Our Home - Stateless Minorities and their Search for Citizenship”, the UNHCR estimates there are 10 million stateless people across the world, the largest block being the Rohingya minority in northern Myanmar.

The report sets a date of 2024 for all stateless people to be given a nationality.

The figures come the day after Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi made her first official visit to Rakhine state, where more than 600,000 Rohingya have been driven from their homes by violence since August.

Most have poured across the border into refugee camps in Bangladesh.

“Aung San Suu Kyi has rejected repeated calls to visit Rakhine state for five years so it’s very significant that she’s chosen this time to go,’ said Mark Farmerer from Burma Campaign UK.

“But she hasn’t announced any shift in policy. She’s addressing superficial concerns but we haven’t seen any change in actual policy or approach. We need to see practical measures to end the repression of the Rohingya and we’re yet to see anything like that.

On Thursday a new bipartisan proposal was unveiled by US lawmakers that called for sanctions against the military in Myanmar in response to reports of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya.

However there was scepticism about whether sanctions would apply any effective pressure on the Myanmar military.

“The new sanctions bill that’s being proposed deliberately avoids any mention of Aung san Suu Kyi and the government,” said Francis Wade, an expert on the region and the author of a new book on ethnic violence called "Myanmar's Enemy Within: Buddhist Nationalism and Anti-Muslim Violence". 

“The problem is, we’ve had far-reaching sanctions in the past. Obama removed these a few years ago in response to signs of reform in the country. What’s more, it’s questionable how effective they even had. I don’t think these sanctions will have more than a symbolic impact. The military will continue to do what it always has."