Secretary-General’s Press Conference Prior to the Opening of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly

Ladies and gentlemen of the media. Thank you very much for your presence.  It’s good to meet all of you once again.

We have a very busy week ahead.  Global leaders will gather here next week at a time when our world faces major threats – from the nuclear peril to global terrorism, from inequality to cybercrime.  Hurricanes and floods around the world remind us that extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent and severe, due to climate change.

No country can meet these tests alone.  But if we work together, we can chart a safer, more stable course.  And that is why the General Assembly meeting is so important.

Today I want to mention two issues at the top of global concerns – and two reform initiatives.

First, the situation in Myanmar.  Grievances that have been left to fester for decades have now escalated beyond Myanmar’s borders, destabilizing the region.

The humanitarian situation is catastrophic.  When we met last week, there were 125,000 Rohingya refugees who had fled into Bangladesh.  That number has now tripled to nearly 380,000.   Many are staying in makeshift settlements or with host communities who are generously sharing what they have. Women and children are arriving hungry and malnourished.

I urge all countries to do what they can for humanitarian assistance to be provided.

As you know, I wrote an official letter to the Security Council to express my concern.  I welcome the Council’s decision to discuss this crisis today.

I have condemned the attacks made by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in Rakhine State, but there have been disturbing reports of attacks by security forces against civilians, which are completely unacceptable.  Aid activities by UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations have been severely disrupted.

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.

I urge them to ensure the delivery of vital humanitarian aid by United Nations agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations and others.

I repeat my call for an effective action plan to address the root causes of the crisis.  The Muslims of Rakhine State must be granted nationality or, at least for now, a legal status that allows them to lead a normal life, including freedom of movement and access to labour markets, education and health services.

 

View full original statement HERE.

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