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Mother's tears for toddler burnt alive

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December 05, 2017

The Rohingya refugees humanitarian crisis will be the subject of a special UN meeting.

Snatched from his mother's arms, a three-year-old boy is burnt alive.

This is not a warped horror film plot but the lived reality of a Rohingya mother called Mina, 20, who escaped military atrocities in Myanmar (Burma) to Bangladesh.

She's one of the 620,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled what the United Nations have dubbed "ethnic cleansing" since late August.

"He was burnt to ashes to paper, his skin turned black," Mina, which is not her real name, told Save the Children.

"When we screamed, they dragged us parents away across the ground."

Mina, her husband and her other son aged two undertook a treacherous three-day journey through mountains to reach the relative safety of an overcrowded refugee camp across the border.

The death of her son haunts her by day and night.

"I dream of my baby burning and wake up screaming," she said.

But she must find the strength to keep going, she's expecting another child in coming months.

The UN's Human Rights Council is holding a special meeting on the crisis on Tuesday.

Save the Children country director Mark Pierce is urging the council to oppose plans for Rohingya refugees to be returned to Bangladesh in a matter of weeks.

"We only risk re-traumatising people who've seen unimaginable horrors and risk leaving the most vulnerable, including pregnant mothers and children, at the mercy of the very people who raped, murdered and brutalised them," Mr Pierce said.

Amnesty International called for Australia to show leadership on the Rohingya crisis and lobby the council to send a strong message to the Myanmar government.

"Australia under Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser was once one of the world's most outspoken critics of South Africa's then apartheid regime," spokeswoman Diana Sayed said.

"But there is an apartheid regime in operation right now on our doorstep against the Rohingya, which Australia has done very little about."

Meanwhile, another expectant mother, Bitani, 25, told Save the Children of walking in mud up to her waist to escape her village.

She claimed military personnel had raped some women immediately after they had given birth.

The Australian government has launched a fundraising appeal with aid groups, pledging to match public donations up to a total of $5 million.

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