In a report on the flight of 100,000 of the Rohingya people to Bangladesh since 1996, the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) said the UNHCR is "entrapped in an insane policy, in complete contradiction to its mandate."
The UNHCR was called on in 1991 to organise the repatriation to Myanmar's Arakan province of a quarter of a million Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh to escape a campaign of terror by the state authorities. Most of those refugees have now returned, the FIDH said, but now a new and more subtle form of "ethnic cleansing" is in process, and thousands of Rohingyas are once again moving across the border.
"Every piece of information the FIDH has collected tends to show that the Burmese (Myanmar) government aims at emptying Arakan of its population, though in an insidious and incremental way so as not to attract the attention of the international community," the report said.
By refusing to acknowledge this and by continuing to work with the Myanmar authorities, "the UNHCR now bears a heavy part of the responsibility in the current exodus of the Rohingyas," the report said.
"Collaboration with the Burmese government seriously compromises the image of the UNHCR. The Rohingyas do not really consider the agency as an independent organisation ... but rather as a partner of the government," the report said.
According to FIDH, the Myanmar authorities have long harboured the aim of emptying Arakan of its Muslim Rohingya population, and are pursuing policies of discrimination and under-development to force them out.
"The Burmese authorities, with the collaboration of the UNHCR, have prevented massive departures," the report said.
"The UNHCR still refuses to acknowledge the scope of the movement ... and claims the Rohingyas are 'economic migrants.' The FIDH believes on the contrary that there is a deliberate policy of discrimination and repression against the Rohingya population," it said.