The UN Security Council has condemned ongoing violence in Myanmar and expressed concern over security force operations against the country's Rohingya Muslim minority.
Some 370,000 Rohingya residents are believed to have fled from western Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh where Muslims hold the majority. They escaped fighting between the ethnic minority's armed groups and government forces. Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights likened the government's actions to ethnic cleansing. International criticism of Myanmar's government is growing.
The UN council held a closed-door emergency meeting on the situation in Myanmar on Wednesday.
Following the meeting, Ethiopia's UN ambassador, Tekeda Alemu, who chairs the talks, told reporters that the council condemns the cycle of violence that produced 370,000 refugees in the country. He said that it also expresses concern over reports of excessive violence by government security forces.
Before the Security Council session, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke to reporters. He pointed out that the most impending problems facing the international community are the situation in Myanmar and North Korea's nuclear program.
He called on Myanmar's authorities to suspend military action, end violence, uphold the rule of law, and recognize the right of return of all those who had to leave the country.
In Washington, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Wednesday reiterated the US concern about suspected human rights violations that led hundreds of thousands of people to leave Myanmar.
Refraining from describing the action as mass killing and ethnic cleansing, she indicated that the United States continues to monitor the country's situation.
Myanmar's government said on Wednesday that the country's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi will skip this month's UN General Assembly meetings.
Diplomatic observers say the decision is expected to generate more international appeals to the Nobel Peace Prize laureate to implement accountability for the human rights situation in Myanmar.