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Seven Countries Seek Security Council Meeting on Myanmar Violence | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Rohingya refugees try to survive in extremely inhuman conditions in Balukhali refugee camp near the Bangladesh town of Gumdhum on September 17, 2017. (AFP)

Egypt, France, Britain, the US and three other countries have asked the UN Security Council to meet next week to discuss the ongoing violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, according to a request seen by Agence France Presse on Friday.

The seven countries including Kazakhstan, Senegal and Sweden want UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to brief the council on Myanmar’s military campaign against the Rohingya in Rakhine state.

The Ethiopian presidency of the council said it was holding consultations to set a time for the meeting.

The United Nations says more than 420,000 Rohingya have fled for safety to Bangladesh in the face of the army campaign in Rakhine that includes rape and the burning of villages.

The Security Council has called for an end to the violence but rights organizations have said the exodus has continued, fuelling international outrage.

The United Nations has described the military operation as “ethnic cleansing” and French President Emmanuel Macron went further, describing it as “genocide.”

A senior UN official said an estimated $200 million would be needed to help the refugees in Bangladesh for six months. Aid workers fear a humanitarian crisis is also unfolding in Rakhine, though Myanmar has restricted access.

“We think, urgently, actions need to be taken to stop this violence and facilitate humanitarian assistance, lower the rhetoric, lower the tension and … start doing the hard work to solve the longer-standing problems,” US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Murphy told reporters.

Given the massive number of refugees arriving in Bangladesh in the past few weeks, the United Nations was expected to launch an appeal for $200 million to help them for the next six months, an official said.

“It has not been confirmed, but it is a ballpark figure, based on the information we have,” Robert D. Watkins, UN
resident coordinator in Bangladesh, told Reuters in an interview in Dhaka.

Watkins said the situation had not stabilised in terms of new arrivals so it was difficult to say how many people to plan for, or how long.

“We don’t want to plan a 10-year operation, obviously, because we want to maintain hope that there will be a way for negotiating a return of the population,” he said.

“We can’t plan too far in the future, because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy … politically, it sends a strong signal, which we don’t want to send, which is that people are going to be here for a long time.