Thousands of Rohingya continued to arrive at camps in Bangladesh on Wednesday. The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, described the situation as ‘catastrophic’ and called on authorities in Myanmar to end violence against the majority-Buddhist country’s Rohingya Muslims, acknowledging the situation there was best described as ethnic cleansing.
More than 330,000 #Rohingya refugees are fleeing #Myanmar by land and sea—
UNICEF</a> is ramping up support for children <a href="https://t.co/ZNFMBwR5V5">https://t.co/ZNFMBwR5V5</a> <a href="https://t.co/pHSqHU7Gcf">pic.twitter.com/pHSqHU7Gcf</a></p>— UNICEF USA (UNICEFUSA) September 13, 2017
An estimated 400,000 people have been forced to flee, but Guterres is calling on Buddhist-dominated Myanmar, to take them back:
“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.”
The secretary general was then asked by a reporter if he would call the situation 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?”
Violence in Myanmar has created a humanitarian catastrophe. Aid has been severely disrupted and 380,000 refugees have fled to Bangladesh.— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) September 13, 2017
The latest violence has been going on since late August when Rohingya militants attacked a number of police and army posts in Rakhine state, but it is the subsequent crackdown by the Myanmar military that has resulted in Rohingya people fleeing their homes in their tens of thousands.
Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is under pressure from the West to do more to stop the violence, but she is under domestic pressure too. Many Buddhists in the country see the situation differently, blaming what has happened on Muslim terrorist groups.
Aung San Suu Kyi will not attend a key debate next week at the UN General Assembly; instead she’s opted to address her nation on TV that same day.