Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi attends the opening session of the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines, November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
MANILA - 14 Nov 2017: The United Nations chief expressed alarm over the plight of Rohingya Muslims in remarks before Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of nations within a Southeast Asian bloc that has refused to criticize her government over the crisis, ABC news reported.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said late Monday the unfolding humanitarian crisis can cause regional instability and radicalization. He met with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on the sidelines of its summit in Manila.
"I cannot hide my deep concern with the dramatic movement of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh," Guterres told the ASEAN leaders.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar's Rakhine state since late August when the military launched what they called "clearance operations" in response to insurgent attacks. The refugees say soldiers and Buddhist mobs attacked them and burned their villages to force them to flee.
Gutteres said at the United Nations in September that the attacks against the Rohingya appeared to be "ethnic cleansing." He said on Friday that it was "an absolutely essential priority" to stop all violence against Rohingya Muslims, allow them to return to their homes, and grant them legal status. But his remarks were more measured in front of his ASEAN audience and he did not use the word "Rohingya" itself, a term that angers people in Myanmar who do not consider them a recognized ethnic group.
"It is a worrying escalation in a protracted tragedy and a potential source of instability in the region, and radicalization," Guterres said, welcoming ASEAN efforts to provide humanitarian aid.
Since the crisis began, Guterres said he has called for "unhindered humanitarian access to affected communities and the right to safe, voluntary and dignified return of those who fled, to their places of origin."