U.N. appoints new top official in Myanmar amid Rohingya crisis

By Sara Shayanian  |  Oct. 31, 2017 at 8:30 AM
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Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Amid the Rohingya crisis that it's called a humanitarian catastrophe, the United Nations on Tuesday appointed a new top coordinating official in Myanmar.

The U.N. Office of the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator announced the appointment of Knut Ostby of Norway to the post.

Ostby, who replaces Renata Lok-Dessallien, will start in the position Nov. 1 and remain until further notice. The U.N. announcement said Ostby would serve in an interim capacity.

Lok-Dessallien had been accused of not properly addressing the Rohingya crisis and has been reassigned.

Ostby has extensive experience working in human rights, development and humanitarian affairs in 17 countries and worked as a coordinator for 11 years -- including in Timor Leste since 2013. Ostby was also a resident coordinator in Fiji and nine other Pacific countries and has worked in Iran.

Ostby will be tasked with coordinating the Rohingya crisis that has so far led to more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar to Bangladesh since late August.

The Rohingya began to flee after a military operation, during which Myanmar security forces and Buddhist mobs are accused of killing and burning villages. Officials have put the Rohingya death toll so far at more than 3,000.

Many international advocacy groups have labeled the bloodshed in Myanmar as "ethnic cleansing."

The United Nations has described the Rohingya as the world's most persecuted minority group.

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