UNITED NATIONS — The latest on a U.N. Security Council meeting on Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing Myanmar (all times local):
Bangladesh’s U.N. ambassador says violence has not stopped in Myanamar’s northern Rakhine state despite its government claims, and with the arrival of over 500,000 Rohingya Muslims since Aug. 25 his nation now hosts over 900,000 members of “this most persecuted minority in the world.”
Masud Bin Momen told an open meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that 20,000 Rohingya arrived Wednesday night. He called this situation untenable and reiterated an appeal to the U.N. to create “safe zones” inside Myanmar.
He said refugees describe rape being used as a weapon to scare families into leaving Myanmar and report villages being burned and people being robbed and abused. Bin Momen said that “these atrocities attest that the Myanmar government is using arson to depopulate northern Rakhine.”
Myanmar’s national security adviser says the crisis in Rakhine state “is due to terrorism and is not based on religion” and is urging the U.N. Security Council not to take measures that exacerbate the situation.
U Thaung Tun told an open council meeting Thursday that “there is no ethnic cleansing and no genocide in Myanmar.”
He said the current crisis was caused by “acts of terrorism” perpetrated by Rohingya Muslim insurgents and the vast majority of the people who fled to Bangladesh did so because “fear was instilled in the heart by the terrorists.”
He said diplomats accompanied by the media will visit northern Rakhine on Monday.
Russia’s U.N. ambassador is warning that “excessive pressure” on Myanmar’s government over violence in Rakhine state and the mass flight of people into Bangladesh “could only aggravate the situation in the country and around it.”
Vassily Nebenzia told an open meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday there is no alternative to resolving “the longstanding and complicated crisis” in Myanamar through political means and a dialogue among representatives of all nationalities and faiths.
He said violence needs to be stopped by all sides.
Nebenzia said information received by Russia shows Rohingya Muslim insurgents have forced Hindus in border villages to flee to Bangladesh along with Muslims. He says there is also information “that terrorists burned entire villages.”
China’s deputy U.N. ambassador is condemning “recent violent attacks” in Myanmar but says “there is no quick fix” to the plight of Rohingya Muslims who have been fleeing to Bangladesh.
Wu Haitao told an open meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that “many of the differences and antagonisms” in Myanmar have been building up over a long time.
China has close tie to Myanmar, and Wu said China supports the Myanmar government’s efforts to maintain domestic stability.
He said that “all parties should work constructively to help reinforce this momentum, de-escalate the situation and alleviate the humanitarian conditions step-by-step.”
Wu expressed hope that “order will prevail again as soon as possible so no more harm will come to the innocent civilians and social stability.”
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is accusing Myanmar’s authorities of carrying out “a brutal, sustained campaign to cleanse the country of an ethnic minority.”
Nikki Haley told an open meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that “the time for well-meaning, diplomatic words in this council has passed.”
Using the country’s former name of Burma, she said, “We must now consider action against Burmese security forces who are implicated in abuses and stoking hatred among their fellow citizens.”
Haley said Myanmar’s military must immediately remove and prosecute those accused of abuses. She said it also must allow unhindered humanitarian access for U.N. agencies and other relief organizations, and “commit to welcoming all who have been displaced to return to their original homes.”
The U.N. secretary-general is urging Myanmar’s authorities to immediately end military operations that have sent over 500,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh.
Antonio Guterres warns that the humanitarian crisis is a breeding ground for radicalization, criminals and traffickers.
He tells the Security Council that Myanmar must also allow “unfettered access” for humanitarian aid and ensure the return of all those who sought refuge in Bangladesh.
The U.N. chief previously called the Rohingya crisis ethnic cleansing. He didn’t repeat those words Thursday but referred to “a deeply disturbing pattern” of violence leading to “large movements of an ethnic group.”
Guterres said Myanmar authorities claimed that security operations ended Sept. 5th, but he cited “reports of the burning of Muslim villages, as well as looting and acts of intimidation.”
The United Nations says the number of Rohingya Muslims that have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh since August has now topped 500,000.
U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq tells reporters “it is the largest mass refugee movement in the region in decades.”
Haq says with the latest figure from the U.N. humanitarian office, “the total number of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh is believed to be well over 700,000 people.”
Haq adds that aid agencies are working with the government to improve road access to refugee camps and to facilitate humanitarian aid deliveries.
He says that as of Thursday, humanitarian partners have received just $36.4 million of the $77 million the U.N. called for in early September. Haq says the scale of the emergency has soared and the appeal will be increased.