SITTWE/YANGON, Myanmar In an unusual display of diplomatic outreach, Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi called a special "informal" meeting of regional foreign ministers in Yangon on Dec. 19 to discuss the deteriorating security situation in the country's western Rakhine State. The move, unprecedented within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, came amid growing international protest over her government's treatment of Rohingya Muslims.
International aid agencies estimate that more than 30,000 Rohingya have been displaced, about 30,000 others have fled to neighboring Bangladesh and at least 160,000 people have been cut off from vital food and medical aid in a military crackdown after Muslim militants attacked police border posts on Oct. 9 in northern Rakhine. The numbers add to an estimated 120,000 already living in makeshift camps in the state after bouts of sectarian violence in 2012 and 2013. The government has said that nearly 100 people have been killed and about 600 detained in military operations against suspected militants since then, but has strongly denied reports of torture and destruction of homes.