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06 December 2017, 01:41 | Melissa Porter
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The global community must now redouble efforts to urge Myanmar's authorities, and in particular its military leadership, to immediately stop the violence and discrimination against Rohingya and other minorities, and allow unfettered access to the UN Fact-Finding Mission, humanitarian aid and independent human rights monitors.
Earlier, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said actions by Myanmar's government to "dehumanize" the Rohingya are likely to fan more violence and draw in communities from across the region.
"Given all of this, can anyone rule out that elements of genocide may be present?" he asked.
Ms. Patten told the human rights panel Tuesday that she had heard "the most heartbreaking and horrific accounts of sexual atrocities reportedly committed in cold blood out of a lethal hatred of these people exclusively on the basis of their ethnicity and religion".
With his government in the spotlight, the ambassador said the priority should be on returning displaced people to Myanmar's Rakhine state.
More than 600,000 Rohingya are languishing in Bangladeshi refugee camps after fleeing a brutal Myanmar army campaign launched in late August.
He is urgently calling on the Myanmar authorities to put an immediate and absolute halt to the violence targeting the Rohingya.
Bangladesh, which along with Saudi Arabia had requested the special session, meanwhile voiced disappointment that Tuesday's resolution was not adopted by consensus, given the severity of the crisis.
"Today the UN's top human rights body has sent the strong message to the government that the world will not turn away, it will not avert its gaze, it will not forget", Laila Matar of Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
Al Hussein said his office has visited and interviewed Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh three times this year.
He described reports of "acts of appalling barbarity committed against the Rohingya, including deliberately burning people to death inside their homes, murders of children and adults; indiscriminate shooting of fleeing civilians; widespread rapes of women and girls, and the burning and destruction of houses, schools, markets and mosques".
"How much do people have to endure before their suffering is acknowledged and their identity and rights are recognised, by their government and by the world?" he asked.
The council rarely holds special sessions, which can only be convened at the request of at least a third of its 47 member states, or 16 countries.
Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh's junior foreign affairs minister, told the session in Geneva that his country was hosting almost one million "Myanmar nationals" following executions and rapes. But rights groups say the conditions are not in place to ensure safe, voluntary and dignified returns.
The leader of a United Nations -mandated fact-finding mission for Myanmar say it's examining "in depth" allegations that genocide or crimes against humanity have been committed against the Rohingya.
Kelley Currie, US ambassador to the UN Economic and Social Council, said the Rohingya's lack of Myanmar citizenship was "the fundamental root cause of this crisis", adding: "Stop denying the seriousness of the current situation".
Marzuki Darusman, who heads the independent fact-finding mission, told the Human Rights Council by videoconference that his team has "not yet come to any conclusion on these issues".
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