Myanmar must provide help to prevent "catastrophe": UN chief

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A Rohingya woman and her child at a makeshift camp outside Sittwe in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State. Photo: IRIN

With thousands of Rohingya refugees pouring into Bangladesh amid reports of violent excesses by Myanmar's security forces, the UN chief said on Friday that restraint was needed to "avoid a humanitarian catastrophe".

The UN estimates more than 27,000 mainly Muslim Rohingyas have fled over the border, while thousands are reportedly stranded.

More details from Matt Wells.

Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement that he was "deeply concerned" by the reports of violent security operations being carried out against civilians in Rakhine State.

He urged calm, and said the government had a responsibility to provide "security and assistance" to all those in need, and allow the UN and partners access so they could deliver aid.

He said that the latest wave of violence, which began last week with attacks by alleged insurgents against government forces, needed what he called "a holistic approach" that tackled the "complex root causes of violence".

Mr Guterres also expressed appreciation for the efforts of the Bangladesh authorities and communities on the border, who are trying to meet the "dire needs" of refugees, fleeing for their lives.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 41"

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