UN Security Council meets on Myanmar violence

A police officer guards near a house which was burnt down during the last days of violence in Maungdaw, northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - The UN Security Council on Wednesday (Aug 30) discussed the violence in Myanmar where clashes and a security crackdown by the military in Rakhine state have sent 18,500 Rohingya fleeing across the border into Bangladesh.

There was no formal statement from the 15-member council following the closed-door meeting but British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said there were calls from council members for de-escalation.

"We all condemned the violence, we all called on all the parties to de-escalate," Rycroft told reporters.

The clashes began on Friday after militants from the Rohingya Muslim minority staged deadly surprise raids on police posts.

The violence has left at least 110 people, including 11 state officials, dead and thousands of Rohingya have poured across the border to Bangladesh despite Dhaka's attempts to stop them.

Myanmar's military has been carrying out sweeps for militants, with residents reporting that security forces were torching villages.

Britain requested the meeting on Myanmar, but diplomats said China was resisting stronger involvement by the UN council in addressing the crisis.

It remained unclear whether further action was planned, but the issue is expected to be discussed during the annual gathering of world leaders at the General Assembly in September.

Rycroft said the council still supports Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel prize laureate and democracy icon who now leads the government in Yangon.

"A lot of us are hugely supportive allies of hers who have followed her progress with admiration from afar," he said.

"We look to her to set the right tone and to find the compromises and the de-escalation necessary in order to resolve the conflict for the good of all the people in Burma." Rycroft pointed to recommendations put forward by former UN chief Kofi Annan calling for an end to restrictions on citizenship and movement imposed on the Rohingyas as a way out of the violence.

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