A boat carrying Rohingya refugees from Myanmar capsized and killed 14 Thursday, the same day a United Nations delegation was denied access to the country to investigate allegations of ethnic cleansing.
The boat was headed to the port city of Cox’s Bazar in neighboring Bangladesh, where an estimated 480,000 Rohingya have already fled in the wake of a government crackdown against the Muslim ethnic minority.
Conflicts between the Rohingya people and Myanmar’s military government have simmered for years. After a guerrilla group of Royingyas attacked a military outpost earlier this year, government troops began razing villages across Rakhine state, where most of the nation’s Rohingya live.
The United Nations said the number of people killed or forced to flee meant the government’s actions were tantamount to ethnic cleansing.
According to CBS News, Myanmar’s government gave no explanation Thursday for why it canceled a scheduled U.N. visit at the last moment. In response, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called an emergency meeting of the security council to brief nations on the latest developments.
Witnesses told the BBC the boat that capsized was carrying about 40 people through the Bay of Bengal when it struck a submerged object and overturned. At least nine of the dead were reportedly children.
The BBC said at least 2,000 Rohingya have arrived in the city in the last 48 hours after fleeing persecution in Myanmar.
By Eric DuVall