A Myanmar soldier inside a vehicle in front of a Hindu temple in the downtown area in Yangon, Myanmar, February 2 2021. Picture: REUTERS
A Myanmar soldier inside a vehicle in front of a Hindu temple in the downtown area in Yangon, Myanmar, February 2 2021. Picture: REUTERS

New York — The UN fears the coup in Myanmar will worsen the plight of some 600,000 Rohingya Muslims still in the country, a UN spokesperson said on Monday as the security council plans to meet on the latest developments on Tuesday.

Myanmar’s military seized power on Monday in a coup against the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained along with other political leaders of in early morning raids.

A 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state sent more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing into Bangladesh, where they are still stranded in refugee camps. UN secretary-general António Guterres and Western states accused the Myanmar military of ethnic cleansing, which it denied.

“There are about 600,000 Rohingya that remain in Rakhine state, including 120,000 people who are effectively confined to camps, they cannot move freely and have extremely limited access to basic health and education services,” UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters.

“So our fear is that the events may make the situation worse for them,” he said.

The 15-member UN security council plans to discuss Myanmar in a closed meeting on Tuesday, diplomats said. “We want to address the long-term threats to peace and security, of course working closely with Myanmar’s Asia and Asean neighbours,” Britain’s UN ambassador Barbara Woodward, president of the council for February, told reporters.

China, backed by Russia, shielded Myanmar from any significant council action after the 2017 military crackdown. China and Russia are council veto powers along with France, Britain and the US.

China’s UN mission said on Monday it hoped to find out more about the latest developments in Myanmar from the cecurity council briefing on Tuesday.

“It’s also our hope that any move by the council would be conducive to the stability of Myanmar rather than making the situation more complicated,” a spokesperson for the Chinese UN mission said.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the government is in touch with “all sides” about the meeting and the international community’s actions should contribute to “a peaceful resolution”.

The Myanmar army said it had detained Suu Kyi and others in response to “election fraud”, handing power to military chief Min Aung Hlaing and imposing a state of emergency for one year.

The UN called for the release of all those detained, Dujarric said. He said Guterres’s special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, “remains actively engaged” and is likely to brief the security council.

The UN has long had a presence in Myanmar. Security council envoys traveled there in April 2018 and met separately with Suu Kyi and Min Aung Hlaing following the crackdown on the Rohingya. 



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