Desmond Tutu urges Aung San Suu Kyi to intervene in Myanmar humanitarian crisis

The UN now says more than 270,000 people have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh

Desmond Tutu urges Aung San Suu Kyi to intervene in Myanmar humanitarian crisis

Desmond Tutu. Picture by: Chris Radburn/PA Archive/PA Images

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has urged fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi to intervene in the humanitarian crisis facing Myanmar.

It adds to the increasing international criticism the de facto leader of Myanmar - also known as Burma - has faced over her handling of the situation facing Rohingya Muslims in the country's Rakhine state.

Burmese police and army have launched a violent crackdown in the state following attacks by Rohingya insurgents on police & border posts.

The UN has said it is receiving 'constant reports' of violence carried out by security forces in the country, with claims that thousands of people have been killed or tortured.

Today, the UN confirmed that 270,000 people have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar over the past two weeks - more than double their estimate from only a few days ago.

In a statement, the UN said: "Most of the people now crossing the border are women, children and the elderly, many of whom are vulnerable and lack the ability to take care of themselves.

"Healthcare facilities are also struggling to provide adequate services as the number of people in need of emergency and basic health care continue to grow."

The organisation has upped its financial aid to the region in response.

"Profound sadness"

In an open letter to Ms Suu Kyi, Desmond Tutu writes of his 'profound sadness at the plight of the Muslim minority' in Myanmar.

The South African activist states: "My dear sister: If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep.

"A country that is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity and worth of all its people, is not a free country."

He added: "As we witness the unfolding horror we pray for you to be courageous and resilient again. We pray you to speak out for justice human rights and the unity of your people."

Yesterday, Ms Suu Kyi defended her government's response to the crisis, insisting they 'try their best' to ensure everybody in the country is protected.