UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called on Myanmar to halt military action and atrocities against the Rohingya in Rakhine state, saying the ongoing violence by security forces against the Muslim minority was "completely unacceptable”.
"The humanitarian situation is catastrophic," Guterres told reporters at a press briefing at the UN’s headquarters in New York City.
He said there have been "disturbing reports of attacks by security forces against civilians, which are completely unacceptable.
“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," Guterres said.
Later in the day, the UN Security Council issued a statement expressing "deep concern" about the situation in Rakhine, condemning the violence that led to an exodus from the Southeast Asian nation.
Council member states "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", the statement said.
U.S.' envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley tweeted that the Council "was united in calling for an end to violence against innocent civilians in Rakhine State".
Haley also thanked neighboring Bangladesh for "hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees, fleeing violence, with nowhere to go".
Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has cancelled a plan to attend the upcoming UN General Assembly as her government faces growing international pressure over its crackdown on the Rohingya.
Since Aug. 25, more than 370,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.
The refugees are fleeing a fresh security operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladesh, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
Source: Anadolu Agency