YANGON – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for the prevention of further escalation and a holistic solution to conflict in Rakhine State, as the UN has confirmed that 125,000 self-identifying Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh in recent weeks.
The UN Secretary-General sent an official letter to the UN Security Council about his concerns in the region, adding that the issues facing the Muslim community in Rakhine State “have festered for far too long and are becoming an undeniable factor in regional destabilization.”
Self-identifying Rohingya Muslims have been fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh since the army launched clearance operations in northern Rakhine State on Aug. 25, following attacks by the Arakan Rohinya Salvation Army (ARSA) on 30 police outposts. The Myanmar government denounced ARSA as terrorist organization.
The UN Secretary-General told media, “I have condemned the recent attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. But now we are receiving constant reports of violence by Myanmar’s security forces, including indiscriminate attacks.”
In the Tuesday announcement, Guterres also urged the Myanmar government to provide security and aid to those who need it.
“It will be crucial to give the Muslims of Rakhine state either nationality or, at least for now, a legal status that will allow them to have a normal life, including freedom of movement and access to labor markets, education and health services,” the secretary-general said.
UNHCR spokesperson Duniya Aslam Khan said in a statement that Kutupalong and Nayapara camps hosting refugees in Bangladesh are at a “breaking point,” with people staying in any available space, including community centers and schools.
“We are running out of available space,” she said.
On Tuesday, Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi reportedly said, “we make sure that all the people in our country are entitled to protection of their rights as well as the right to and not just political but social and humanitarian defense,” when speaking to the President of Turkey on the phone regarding concerns about the crisis in the region.
Meanwhile, within Myanmar, about 27,000 Arakanese, sub-ethnicities, and Hindus have also been displaced due to the violence in Rakhine State. According to the Government Information Committee, in total there have been 97 clashes in the area between security forces and the ARSA from August 25 until September 5.
On Tuesday, UN agencies requested US$18 million to fund three months worth of aid efforts to assist refugees in Bangladesh.