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UN Urges Myanmar to Give Rohingya 'Full Citizenship'

FILE - Rohingya people wait to receive their share of food aid from the World Food Program (WFP) at the Thae Chaung camp for internally displaced people in Sittwe, Rakhine state.

The United Nations General Assembly has passed a resolution urging Myanmar to grant citizenship and equal rights to the country's beleaguered Rohingya minority.

In a resolution passed by consensus on Monday, the General Assembly expressed "serious concern" at Myanmar's treatment of the mostly Muslim minority group.

Around 140,000 Rohingya are stuck in filthy, overcrowded camps in Rakhine state, where sectarian unrest has left up to 280 people dead in since June 2012.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, does not recognize the existence of the Rohingya ethnicity. Many locals and government officials instead say they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

The U.N. resolution urged members of the group to be granted "full citizenship" and be allowed to self-identify as Rohingya and not Bengali, as the government insists.

It also called on Myanmar to provide Rohingya with "equal access" to services and to allow the group to return to their communities with the protection of the government.

The non-binding measure noted "continued positive developments in Myanmar," in reference to the political and economic reforms undertaken since the ruling military gave up some of its political power in 2011.

But it also urged authorities to step up its efforts to end remaining human rights violations and abuses, "including arbitrary arrest and detention, forced displacement, rape and other forms of sexual violence."

Critics say the country's reforms are now slowing and that conditions have worsened after Western countries, including the United States, began relaxing long-standing sanctions and renewing diplomatic ties with Myanmar.