UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council may visit Myanmar and Bangladesh this month to see firsthand the situation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled a military crackdown in Myanmar.
"We are currently preparing the terms of reference," council president for April, Peruvian Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, told reporters Monday. "We do have the readiness of the government of Myanmar to agree to the visit, to accept the visit; obviously, we are interested in the Rakhine state."
Some 700,000 minority Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine for neighboring Bangladesh since August, after attacks by Rohingya militants on state security forces led to military reprisals that the United Nations says were executed in a well-organized, systematic and coordinated manner and are a "textbook example" of ethnic cleansing.
Meza-Cuadra would not go into great detail, saying the trip is still being coordinated.
The council has been discussing a possible mission to Myanmar since February, under Kuwait's council presidency. At the time, the Myanmar authorities brushed off the proposal, telling the council it was not the right time for a visit.
Kuwait, along with Britain, are working with council president Peru to arrange the trip.
"In really maintaining interest in this topic, there is nothing better than making a visit on the ground to see how the situation is really," Meza-Cuadra said.
Access to Rakhine for diplomats, aid workers and journalists has been limited since August. Survivors of the violence have given harrowing accounts of Myanmar security forces killing and raping Rohingya while looting and burning their villages in northern Rakhine state.
The council also wants to include a stop at Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are being sheltered.
The U.N.'s deputy humanitarian chief, Ursula Mueller, travels to Myanmar on Monday. She will be in the country through Sunday to study the humanitarian impact of the crisis in Rakhine and the conflict in Kachin and Shan states.
She has meetings planned in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, as well as field visits.