Australia AG rejects lawyers' bid to prosecute Myanmar's Suu Kyi

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To meet the urgent needs of almost 900,000 Rohingya refugees and more than 330,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in the communities hosting them, United Nations agencies and their humanitarian partners appealed jointly on Friday for $951 million.

Fifty-four per cent of the appeal is to ensure food, water and sanitation, shelter and other basic aid, with food alone accounting for 25 per cent of the total.

NGOs and UN agencies, including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Children's Fund, launched the joint appeal on Friday.

The head of the United Nations refugee agency, Filippo Grandi, told reporters that the immediate concern was mobilizing life-saving aid for refugees, especially with monsoon season approaching and tens of thousands of people living in areas prone to landslides and floods.

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But Grandi insisted that despite those circumstances, he would not stop fighting for the repatriation of those who wish to return home.

Worldwide media have described the atrocity committed by Myanmar security forces against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State as one the worst in the history of the republic, with many Rohingyas having fled to Bangladesh and some trapped in the mountains without basic supplies.

"The needs and vulnerabilities of the Rohingya refugee population in Bangladesh are enormous", said William Swing, Director General of the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM).

But, he added, those talks "have continued".

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"We have to take this thing one step at a time", he said, reiterating the need for humanitarian assistance while repatriation negotiations play out.

A statement from the legal team said there was "widespread and credible eyewitness reports ... of extensive and systematic crimes against the Muslim Rohingyan population by the Myanmar security forces, including extra-judicial killings, disappearances, violence, rape, unlawful detention, and destruction of property and whole villages".

Australia formally recognises the principle of universal jurisdiction, giving Australian courts jurisdiction to hear allegations of the most serious global crimes, regardless of the nationality of the alleged offender, or the place of the commission of the offences.

Myanmar's civilian government led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has pledged to start the gradual repatriation of the Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh.

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"We have handed the list of 374 people to the Bangladesh Embassy so that they can immediately start their repatriation", Myint Thu said.

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