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Antonio Guterres urges Aung San Suu Kyi to allow Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to return

Manila: UN chief Antonio Guterres urged Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi to allow Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to return, when they met at a summit in the Philippines on Monday, his office said.

The meeting added to global pressure on Suu Kyi to take action to end the crisis for the Muslim minority. The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to hold talks with her in Manila on Tuesday.

"The secretary-general highlighted that strengthened efforts to ensure humanitarian access, safe, dignified, voluntary and sustained returns, as well as true reconciliation between communities, would be essential," a UN statement said, summarising comments to Suu Kyi.

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh in two and a half months.

Myanmar's state counselor Ai=ung San Suu Kyi. AP

Myanmar's state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. AP

The crisis erupted after Rohingya rebels attacked police posts in Myanmar's Rakhine state, triggering a military crackdown that saw hundreds of villages reduced to ashes and sparked a massive exodus. Authorities have blocked independent access to northern Rakhine.

But journalists and UN officials have collected reams of testimony from Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh describing soldiers and Buddhist mobs committing murder, rape and mass arson.

Following its first official investigation into the crisis, the army published a report this week in which it cleared itself of any abuses.

Nobel laureate Suu Kyi, a former democracy activist, has been lambasted by rights groups for failing to speak up for the Rohingya or condemn festering anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.

But she lacks control over the powerful military, which ruled the country for decades until her party came to power following 2015 elections.

The United States has been careful not to place blame on her and has focused instead on the army's role in the conflict.

Guterres and Suu Kyi met in the early hours of Tuesday morning, according to his office.

In a summit on Monday night with leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is member, Guterres also voiced concern about the Rohingya.

He said the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya was a "worrying escalation in a protracted tragedy," according to the UN statement.

He described the situation as a potential source of instability in the region, as well as radicalisation.


Published Date: Nov 14, 2017 09:04 AM | Updated Date: Nov 14, 2017 09:10 AM

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