UN chief Antonio Guterres urged Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi to allow the Rohingyas to re settle in their home country after being persecuted and driven out by the Mayanmar army. The plea was made during a summit level meet in Manila and was duly confirmed by the UN officials.
The meeting is set to add further pressure on the Mayanmar leadership to take back their refugees who are deemed as a threat by all other host countries, in some cases being extradited as well. Another round of meeting is due with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss the issue before the US leader takes a proposed trip to Myanmar to adjudge the situation personally.
"The Secretary-General highlighted that strengthened efforts to ensure humanitarian access, safe, dignified, voluntary and sustained returns, as well as true reconciliation between communities, would be essential," a UN statement said, summarising comments to Suu Kyi.
More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh in two and a half months. The crisis erupted after Rohingya rebels attacked police posts in Myanmar's Rakhine state, triggering a military crackdown that saw hundreds of villages reduced to ashes and sparked a massive exodus.
Authorities have blocked independent access to northern Rakhine. But journalists and UN officials have collected reams of testimony from Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh describing soldiers and Buddhist mobs committing murder, rape and mass arson.
Following its first official investigation into the crisis, the army published a report this week in which it cleared itself of any abuses. Nobel laureate Suu Kyi, a former democracy activist, has been lambasted by rights groups for failing to speak up for the Rohingya or condemn festering anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.
The United States has been careful not to place blame on her and has focused instead on the army's role in the conflict. Guterres and Suu Kyi met in the early hours of Tuesday morning, according to his office.
In a summit on Monday night with leaders from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member, Guterres voiced concern about the Rohingya crisis, urging all to rethink the steps which must be taken to contain the situaiton.
He said the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya was a "worrying escalation in a protracted tragedy," according to the UN statement. He described the situation as a potential source of instability in the region, as well as radicalisation.