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Nine countries at UN seek to override China to raise Myanmar

2 min

United Nations (United States) (AFP)

The United States, France, Britain and six other countries on the UN Security Council have called for a meeting on Myanmar that is expected to face opposition from China, diplomats said Wednesday.

The meeting requested for next week would be to hear a report from UN envoy Christine Schraner Burgener who last month paid a 12-day visit to Myanmar to discuss the plight of Rohingya refugees.

Around 740,000 Muslim Rohingya are living in camps in Bangladesh after they were driven out of Myanmar's northern Rakhine state during a military campaign in 2017 that the United Nations has described as ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar has agreed to take back some of the refugees in a deal reached with Bangladesh, but the United Nations insists that the safety of the Rohingya be a condition for their return.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has criticized as "too slow" Myanmar's efforts to address the Rohingya crisis and described the lack of progress as a source of "enormous frustration."

Schraner Burgener, a Swiss diplomat, has made four visits to Myanmar since her appointment in April but appears to have returned empty-handed each time.

Belgium, Germany, Poland, Kuwait, Peru and the Dominican Republic joined the three veto-holding powers to push the council to turn its attention to Myanmar.

Diplomats said China was expected to raise objections but it remained unclear whether it would seek to block the meeting with a procedural vote.

Nine votes are required in the 15-member council to hold a meeting, and vetoes do not apply.

The Chinese mission at the United Nations did not respond to a request from AFP for comment.

In October, China failed to win enough support at the council to block a report from the head of UN fact-finding mission in Myanmar.

China, which has close ties with Myanmar's military, has argued that the crisis in Rakhine is linked to poverty and has opposed any step to put pressure on the authorities.

Myanmar's military has denied any wrongdoing in Rakhine and argues that its operations were justified to root out Rohingya insurgents following attacks on police posts.

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