United Nations: UN chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday called on Myanmar to suspend military action in the restive Rakhine state from where hundreds and thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh.
An estimated 380,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled Myanmar and reached Bangladesh after a crackdown by Myanmar security forces in response to an attack on a military outpost by Rohingya militants on August 25.
“I call on the Myanmar authorities to suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law, and recognise the right of return of all those who had to leave the country,” UN Secretary-General Guterres told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.
At a news conference ahead of the annual UN General Assembly, Guterres also urged United Nations agencies, Non- Governmental Organisations and others to ensure the delivery of vital humanitarian aid to the refugees.
“I repeat my call for an effective action plan to address the root causes of the crisis. The Muslims of Rakhine state must be granted nationality or, at least for now, a legal status that allows them to lead a normal life, including freedom of movement and access to labour markets, education and health services,” he said.
The Secretary General said that the grievances that have been left to fester for decades have now escalated beyond Myanmar’s borders, destabilising the region.
“The humanitarian situation is catastrophic,” Guterres said, adding that nearly 380,000 Rohingya refugees have fled into Bangladesh.
Many are staying in makeshift settlements or with host communities who are generously sharing what they have.
“Women and children are arriving hungry and malnourished.
I urge all countries to do what they can for humanitarian assistance to be provided,” he said.
Guterres, who recently wrote an official letter to the Security Council to express his concern, welcomed the Council’s decision to discuss this crisis.
“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 organisations have been severely disrupted,” Guterres added.