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Britain, Sweden push UN council to call for end to Myanmar violence

© AFP | Rohingya Muslim refugees disembark from a boat on the Bangladeshi side of Naf river in Teknaf on September 12, 2017


Britain and Sweden on Wednesday urged the UN Security Council to call for an end to Myanmar's military campaign in Rakhine state that has forced nearly 380,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee.

The top UN body was set to meet behind closed doors at around 1600 GMT to discuss the crisis but diplomats said they expected China and Russia to resist calls for a tough response.

"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 and the people of Rakhine," British Deputy UN Ambassador Jonathan Allen told reporters.

Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog said he hoped for a "unified outcome" and "clear messages about what needs to happen now".

That 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," said Skoog.

Britain and Sweden requested the meeting, held two weeks after another closed session that did not yield any formal statement from the council on the crisis.

Human rights groups have called on the Security Council to step up the pressure on Myanmar authorities and make clear the world is watching.

But the Swedish ambassador played down calls for a public meeting, saying: "I don't think the Rohingya people care whether our meetings are closed or open."

Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi earlier announced that she will deliver an address next Wednesday on national reconciliation and peace after rights groups and fellow Nobel laureates criticized her for failing to speak out.

Rohingya refugees have told chilling accounts of soldiers firing on civilians and razing entire villages in the north of Rakhine state with the help of Buddhist mobs. The army denies the allegations.

The 1.1-million strong Rohingya have suffered years of discrimination in Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship even though many have long-lasting roots in the country.

Britain and Sweden are calling on Suu Kyi to implement the recommendations of a report by former UN chief Kofi Annan that called on Myanmar to grant citizenship rights to the Rohingya.

© 2017 AFP