U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed concern over the plight of the 730,000 Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, calling on Myanmar’s government to take responsibility by dealing with the root causes of their flight and working toward their safe repatriation.
Guterres spoke as he met with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to which Myanmar belongs. ASEAN leaders meet annually to try to work out common policies on pressing issues, but also maintain a policy of noninterference in each other’s affairs.
A draft of a statement to be issued by ASEAN leaders takes a conciliatory tone toward Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya, which has been criticized by Western nations and rights groups. The Rohingya fled to Bangladesh after a 2017 Myanmar counterinsurgency campaign.