Myanmar violence could spread, displace more Rohingya, says UN chief Antonio Guterres

Guterres addressing the UN General Assembly, Sept 19, 2017. PHOTO: NYTIMES

UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) - United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Thursday (Sept 28) that the violence against Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims in the northern part of Rakhine state could spread to central Rakhine, where 250,000 more people were at risk of displacement.

Guterres told the UN Security Council during its first public meeting on Myanmar in eight years, that the violence had spiralled into the "world's fastest developing refugee emergency, a humanitarian and human rights nightmare."

"We have received bone-chilling accounts from those who fled - mainly women, children and the elderly," he said.

"These testimonials point to excessive violence and serious violations of human rights, including indiscriminate firing of weapons, the use of landmines against civilians and sexual violence."

More than 500,000 Rohingya Muslim have fled to Bangladesh in the past month since insurgents attacked security posts near the border, triggering fierce Myanmar military retaliation that the United Nations has branded ethnic cleansing.

Sweden, the United States, Britain, France, Egypt, Senegal, and Kazakhstan requested Thursday's council meeting.

Guterres demanded immediate humanitarian aid access to areas affected by the violence and expressed concern "by the current climate of antagonism towards the United Nations" and aid groups.

"The failure to address this systematic violence could result in a spill-over into central Rakhine, where an additional 250,000 Muslims could potentially face displacement," Guterres said.

"The crisis has generated multiple implications for neighboring States and the larger region, including the risk of inter-communal strife. We should not be surprised if decades of discrimination and double standards in treatment of the Rohingya create openings for radicalisation," he said.

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