UNITED NATIONS —
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says at least 18,000 ethnic Rohingya Muslims have escaped to neighboring Bangladesh in the past week. They fled after a series of coordinated attacks by Rohingya insurgents on security forces in Myanmar's north Rakhine State triggered new fighting with the army.
Amid reports that the security forces have been involved in extrajudicial killings, the burning of villages and attacks on ethnic Rohingya communities, thousands more people have headed toward the Bangladesh border.
In a closed-door U.N. Security Council briefing Wednesday, Ambassador Matthew Rycroft urged all parties to reduce tensions. He also called on Myanmar's de facto leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, to show strong leadership.
"We look to her to set the right tone and to find the compromises and the de-escalation necessary in order to resolve the conflict for the good of all the people in Burma," Rycroft said.
Myanmar is also known as Burma.
On Tuesday, U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein said the state has a duty to protect all people within its territory without discrimination.
He also expressed concern about unfounded allegations by the government that international aid organizations were complicit in or supported recent attacks on the security forces.
Human Rights Watch U.N. Director Lou Charbonneau said such accusations are dangerous.
"The suggestion that aid workers are at all involved in this violence is irresponsible, unhelpful and it just smells like an excuse to keep aid workers out of an area where people desperately need humanitarian aid; where they have been suffering for a long time," Charbonneau said.
Charbonneau urged the Security Council to speak with one voice to demand that both the government and insurgents stop the violence, end human rights abuses, and carry out investigations of alleged abuses.