YANGON - The UN Security Council on Wednesday expressed concern about excessive force used by Myanmar during its security operation in Rakhine state and called for "immediate steps" to end the violence.
The unanimous statement followed a council meeting held behind closed doors to respond to the violence that has driven nearly 380,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee across the border to Bangladesh.
The council condemned the violence and called for humanitarian aid workers to be able to reach those in need in Rakhine state.
Ethiopian Ambassador Tekeda Alemu, who holds the council presidency, told reporters after the meeting that council members "expressed concern about reports of excessive violence during the security operations and called for immediate steps to end the violence in Rakhine."
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier called for a halt to the military campaign in Rakhine and acknowledged that the mass displacement of Rohingya Muslims amounted to ethnic cleansing.
"I call on the Myanmar authorities to suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law and recognize the right of return of all those who had to leave the country," the secretary general said in a press conference.
Asked if he agreed the Rohingya population was being ethnically cleansed, he replied: "When one-third of the Rohingya population has got to flee the country, can you find a better word to describe it?"
The 1.1-million strong Rohingya have suffered years of discrimination in Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship even though many have longstanding roots in the country.
Guterres said the Myanmar government should either grant the Rohingya nationality or legal status that would allow them to live a normal life.