By Umar Farooq
WASHINGTON (AA) – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres Tuesday called on Security Council member states to urge Myanmar to cooperate in solving the humanitarian crisis experienced by Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.
Guterres described the situation as "one of the world’s worst humanitarian and human rights crises" in an address to the Security Council.
"I ask members of the Security Council to join me in urging the Myanmar authorities to cooperate with the United Nations, and to ensure immediate, unimpeded and effective access for its agencies and partners," Guterres said.
His remarks come one day after a UN fact-finding mission published a report that said top military officials in Myanmar, including Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing should be investigated for genocide.
Facebook banned the accounts and pages of Myanmar army officials Monday, citing they were spreading hate by attacking the Rohingya Muslim population through social media.
Guterres said the Myanmar government has refused to work with UN human rights groups despite repeated calls by the Security Council to do so.
Recounting a story of when he visited Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, he discussed the horrific stories that he encountered there.
"One father broke down as he told me how his son was shot dead in front of him. His mother was brutally murdered and his house burned to the ground. He took refuge in a mosque only to be discovered by soldiers who abused him and burned the Quran," the UN chief said.
"Some 130,000 Rohingya remain confined in camps with severe restrictions on their freedom of movement. They have extremely limited access to health, education and other essential services, and to ways of making a living," Guterres added.
On Aug. 25, 2017, Myanmar launched a major military crackdown on the Muslim ethnic minority, killing almost 24,000 civilians and forcing 750,000 others including women and children to flee to Bangladesh, according to the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. The UN has described the Rohingya as the “world's most persecuted people.”
"It is clear that conditions are not yet met for the safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees to their places of origin or choice."
Guterres stressed the UN should follow the framework set by former Secretary General Kofi Annan, and as long as there is fear and persecution remains in the Rakhine state, they will not allow refugees to return.
"A year has passed. This crisis cannot continue indefinitely," Guterres said.