UNITED NATIONS (Reuters, AFP) - Myanmar's vice-president told the United Nations on Wednesday (Sept 20) that security forces in his country's Rakhine state, from which hundreds of thousands of people have recently fled, have been instructed to take "full measures" to avoid collateral damage and harming innocent civilians.
Addressing the UN General Assembly, Henry Van Thio said it was not only Rohingya Muslims who had fled, but members of other minority groups too.
He said human rights violations would be dealt with "in accordance with strict norms of justice."
He also insisted that the crisis in violence-torn Rakhine state was easing after heavy international criticism.
“I am happy to inform you that the situation has improved,” Van Thio said in his address, saying there have been no clashes since Sept 5.
The vice-president addressed the annual UN General Assembly in the place of leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who a day earlier delivered a speech calling for patience.
His remarks are even less likely than Suu Kyi’s to mollify global concerns as he questioned the reasons for the flight of members of the Rohingya Muslim minority.
“We are concerned by reports that the numbers of Muslims crossing into Bangladesh remain unabated. We would need to find out the reason for this exodus,” he said.
The United Nations says more than 420,000 Rohingya have fled for safety to Bangladesh in the face of an army campaign that includes the burning of villages and rape.