Wed Sep 13, 2017 06:16PM
Newly arrived Rohingya Muslim refugees rest on the roadside after fleeing to Bangladesh from Myanmar in Ukhiya on September 6, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Newly arrived Rohingya Muslim refugees rest on the roadside after fleeing to Bangladesh from Myanmar in Ukhiya on September 6, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Britain and Sweden have urged the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to call for an end to Myanmar's crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

Myanmar’s military stepped up a crackdown on the Rohingya on August 25, after dozens of police and border outposts in Rakhine allegedly came under attack by an armed group that is said to be defending the rights of the Rohingya. The latest crackdown has forced about 380,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee.

The top UN body was scheduled to meet at about 1600 GMT on the Rohingya crisis but diplomats said they expected China and Russia to object to a tough response.

British Deputy UN Ambassador Jonathan Allen told reporters, "We need to see an end to the violence. We need to see immediate and widespread access to humanitarian aid and relief for the people of Burma (Myanmar) and the people of Rakhine."

Swedish Ambassador to the UN Olof Skoog said he hoped for a "unified outcome" and "clear messages about what needs to happen now." He said that the message should be that "the military campaign that we have seen is stopped and that there is full respect for human rights and international humanitarian law."

The meeting, which was held at the request of Britain and Sweden behind closed doors, comes two weeks after a similar session that yielded no formal statement.

Rohingya Muslim refugees arrive from Myanmar after crossing the Naf river in the Bangladeshi town of Teknaf on September 12, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Human rights groups have urged the UNSC to increase pressure on Myanmar’s authorities regarding the plight of the Rohingya and make clear the world is watching. But the Swedish ambassador downplayed calls for a public meeting.

"I don't think the Rohingya people care whether our meetings are closed or open," Skoog said.

The Rohingya, who had already been under a military siege in Rakhine since October 2016, are being brutally killed, raped, or forced to leave their homes as their villages are being set on fire.

Rohingya Muslims, a community of more than a million people, have been denied citizenship and access to basic rights as the Buddhist-majority country of Myanmar views them as intruders from neighboring Bangladesh. The Rohingya reject claims about their origins and say their ancestors have lived in the area for decades.

Britain and Sweden are urging Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi to implement the recommendations of a report by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, which called on Myanmar’s authorities to grant citizenship rights to the Rohingya.