“Bone-chilling” accounts from those fleeing Myanmar, U.N. Secretary General says

The United Nations Secretary General said Thursday they have received “bone-chilling” accounts from the 500,000 ethnic Rohingya fleeing Myanmar as the country’s government abruptly canceled a planned visit by the U.N. to monitor the situation. 

“We have received bone-chilling accounts from those who fled — mainly women, children and the elderly,” said U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Guterres addressed the Security Council in the first open meeting about the crisis in Myanmar, also known as Burma, that was called at the request the United States, Britain, France, Egypt, Senegal, Sweden and Kazakhstan on Thursday.

Widespread violence against minority Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has led to a mass exodus into Bangladesh. On Thursday, reports surfaced that an ethnic Rohingya insurgent group attacked police posts in Myanmar, sparking a brutal crackdown by the country’s military and security forces, which have been accused of razing scores of villages in what U.N. officials have said amounts to “ethnic cleansing.” 

Myanmar’s government gave no reason for canceling the visit, which the U.N. said was to be the first group of international observers allowed by Myanmar’s government into Rakhine state since the violence there escalated rapidly in August.  

After Guterres’ remarks Thursday, Myanmar’s representative U Thaung Tun, speaking at the Council, blamed the media for its reporting on violence by what he called terrorists. 

Reports of “a campaign of terror has been unleashed in northern Rakhine and that unspeakable crimes have been committed against innocent people have only served to heighten the concern of the international community,” Tun said. 

The refugee crisis, which has exceeded 500,000, has “spiraled into the world’s fastest developing refugee emergency, a humanitarian and human rights nightmare,” Guterres told the Council, and he pointed to serious violations of human rights, including “indiscriminate firing of weapons, the use of landmines against civilians and sexual violence.”

Guterres called for the “Muslims of Rakhine State” to be granted nationality by Myanmar. At the U.N. briefing was a representative of the government of Aung San Suu Kyi , the National Security Adviser U Thaung Tun, as well as the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh, Masud Bin Momen.  

The U.N. chief said he was “deeply concerned” by the antagonism toward the U.N. and non-governmental organizations, and the recent attacks against the International Committee for…

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