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Is the UN fit for purpose?

Humanity looks to the United Nations for one thing above all else: to prevent atrocities. But it failed to stop the massacre of the Rohingya in Myanmar, just as it failed in Sri Lank, Bosnia and Rwanda.

In the last days of August 2017, Myanmar’s westernmost coastal region erupted in a frenzied fit of killing and burning. Nearly 400 Rohingya villages were encircled and razed to the ground by soldiers, who often opened fire from beyond the village perimeter, spraying bullets through the latticed wooden walls of houses. 

The speed of the exodus that followed was staggering. Within three weeks, 300,000 refugees had fled to Bangladesh; by 1st October 2017, the number had passed half a million. In time, that figure climbed to nearly three quarters of a million. One 25-year-old woman, whom I interviewed in the camp in Bangladesh, came from a village called Chut Pyin. She told me how, on the morning of 27th August, she had been taken from her house by soldiers,…

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