Washington: Expressing concern over the “humanitarian crisis” in Myanmar, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has urged the country’s army chief to help the government end violence in the northern Rakhine state where unrest has forced over 600,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh.
In a telephone call yesterday with Myanmar’s Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Tillerson “concern about the continuing humanitarian crisis and reported atrocities in Rakhine”.
He sought the support of the army chief for ending the violence and allowing the safe return home of those displaced during the violence, especially the large numbers of ethnic Rohingyas, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
“At the same time, he urged the military to facilitate humanitarian aid for displaced people in affected areas, allow media access, and cooperate with the United Nations to ensure a thorough, independent investigation into all allegations of human rights abuses and violations and to ensure accountability,” Nauert said in a statement.
Tillerson also condemned the August 25 deadly attacks by militants on security forces in the Rakhine State, she said.
Militant attacks on Myanmar security forces sparked a major army crackdown on the community.
Acccording to the UN estimates, more than 600,000 members of the minority Muslim group have fled across the border into Bangladesh since then, triggered a grave humanitarian crisis in the country.
Meanwhile, at the UN headquarters in New York, the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar’s human rights Yanghee Lee said that the Security Council should issue a strongly worded resolution on the Myanmar crisis.
“The crisis in Rakhine State has not only been decades in the making but has for some time gone beyond Myanmar’s borders. For a very long time now this issue has not been simply a domestic affair,” Lee told the General Assembly.
Registering its opposition to a country-specific report, the representative from Myanmar said it was working with Bangladesh on the voluntary, safe and dignified return of displaced persons.
The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management is working with Myanmar to deliver humanitarian assistance, Lee said.
The US said on Tuesday that it had initiated actions against Myanmar’s military leadership involved in violence against Rohingya Muslims.
Since August 25, the US has ceased consideration of travel waivers for current and former senior leadership of Myanmar’s military.
It is also assessing authorities under the JADE Act to consider economic options available to target individuals associated with atrocities.