SABC News - UN acknowledges Rohingya fleeing Myanmar:Thursday 14 September 2017

UN acknowledges Rohingya fleeing Myanmar

Thursday 14 September 2017 05:42

Sherwin Bryce-Pease

Guterres called on authorities to end violence against the Muslim minority who have fled across the border into Bangladesh in their hundreds of thousands.

Guterres called on authorities to end violence against the Muslim minority who have fled across the border into Bangladesh in their hundreds of thousands. (REUTERS)

The United Nations Chief has acknowledged that the situation of the Rohingya fleeing Myanmar after a brutal crackdown by the army is best described as “ethnic cleansing”.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres appeared to agree with his High Commissioner for Human Rights who earlier in the week used the very same term to describe the persecution of the Rohingya.

Guterres called on authorities there to end violence against the Muslim minority who have fled across the border into Bangladesh in their hundreds of thousands.

After a closed-door meeting, the Security Council expressed concern about reports of excessive violence and called for immediate steps to de-escalate the situation.

Close to 400 000 have streamed across the border into Bangladesh since August 25, forced from their homes and villages that have been raised to the ground with hope that thousands of kilometers away in New York, pressure would build on the army to pull back.

Guterres called the humanitarian situation catastrophic.

“I have condemned the attacks made by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in Rakhine State, but there have been disturbing
reports of attacks by security forces against civilians, which are completely unacceptable. Aid activities by UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations have been severely disrupted. I call on the Myanmar authorities to suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law, and recognize the right of return of all those who had to leave the country.”


He was asked if he believed that the targeting amounted to ethnic cleansing.

“Well I would answer your question with another question. When one third of the Rohingya population had to flee the country can
you find a better word to describe it.”

This as the Security Council emerged from hours behind closed doors expressing concern in elements to the press.

Security Council President for September, and Ethiopia’s Ambassador Tekeda Alemu says, “They expressed concern about reports of excessive violence during the security operation and called for immediate steps to end the violence in Rakhine, de-escalate the situation, re-establish law and order, ensure the protection of civilians, restore normal socio-economic conditions and resolve the refugee problem.”

When asked if the elements shared reflected the gravity of the situation on the ground given that human rights NGOs including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have slammed the Council’s inaction on Myanmar, he responded: “That is what the Security Council has agreed for now.”

The United Kingdom is the penholder on all texts related to Myanmar in the Council.

UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft says, “The press elements agreed today are an important first step, they capture the three big
things that all of us wanted to underline – first of all there must be an end to the security operations, secondly that there must be full humanitarian access wherever it is needed, and thirdly that the Government of Myanmar has an important obligation in looking to the longer in implementing the recommendations of the Annan commission.”

Earlier is was announced that Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi had cancelled her trip to the UN General Assembly
next week over the crisis in her country.

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