Myanmar's national leader Aung San Suu Kyi, facing outrage over violence that has forced about 400,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh, has cancelled a trip to the upcoming United Nations General Assembly due to the crisis.
- Her office says she will stay behind to establish stability due to security threats
- Ms Suu Kyi will address the nation on peace and reconciliation next week
- The UN Security Council meets to discuss the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar
The exodus of refugees, sparked by the security forces' fierce response to a series of Rohingya militant attacks, is the most pressing problem Ms Suu Kyi has faced since becoming leader last year.
Critics have called for her to be stripped of her Nobel Peace Prize for failing to do more to halt the strife which the UN rights agency said was a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".
Aid agencies will have to step up operations "massively" in response to the refugee flow to Bangladesh, a senior UN official said, adding that the $US77 million ($97 million) the United Nations had appealed for last week would not be enough.
But a Bangladeshi border force officer said the number of people crossing into his area had fallen sharply, apparently because everyone had left the districts worst hit by violence.
The UN Security Council was set to meet on Wednesday behind closed doors for the second time since the crisis erupted and released a statement calling for "immediate steps to end the violence, de-escalate the situation, re-establish law, and ensure the protection of civilians".
UN officials said it was the first time in nine years the council had agreed on a statement on Myanmar.
Trip cancelled to focus on 'establishing stability'
Ms Suu Kyi, in her first address to the UN General Assembly as leader in September last year, defended her government's efforts to resolve the crisis over treatment of the Muslim minority.
This year, she cancelled her trip to New York because of the security threats posed by the insurgents and the need to restore stability, Zaw Htay, spokesman for Ms Suu Kyi's office, told a media briefing.
"She is concentrating on establishing stability," the spokesman said.
Mr Htay added that preventing any spread of communal violence was a priority and Ms Suu Kyi would address the nation on reconciliation and peace next Tuesday.
International pressure has been growing on Buddhist-majority Myanmar to end the violence in the western state of Rakhine that began on August 25 when Rohingya militants attacked 30 police posts and an army camp.
The raids triggered a sweeping military counter-offensive against the insurgents, whom the Government labels terrorists — refugees say the offensive is aimed at pushing Rohingya out of Myanmar.
Numerous Rohingya villages in the north of Rakhine state have been torched but authorities have denied that security forces or Buddhist civilians have been setting the fires. Instead, they blame the insurgents.
In the latest violence reported by the Government, the insurgents attacked and burned three police posts in the north of Rakhine on Tuesday. There were no reports of casualties.