The United Nations has begun assessment of conditions in Myanmar's Rakhine state after it was finally given permission to operate there for the first time since violence escalated last year and forced more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.
A top Malaysian official said here on Monday that the security of Rohingya Muslim refugees, who have fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar's Muslim-majority Rakhine State, should be guaranteed before returning their country.
After two days of ceremonious meetings, Southeast Asian leaders missed the bullseye in talks about two major human rights issues affecting their region: Myanmar's handling of the Rohingya crisis and the Philippines' bloody campaign against illegal drug traffickers.
Myanmar security forces have carried out "well organized, coordinated and systematic" attacks aimed at preventing members of the Rohingya ethnic group from returning, the UN Human Rights office said in a report on Wednesday.
Rohingya refugees arriving in Bangladesh amid a fresh exodus from strife-torn Myanmar have described whole villages being emptied and thousands marching to the border as security forces redouble efforts to drive remaining Muslims from their homes.