efe-epaBangkok

A Myanmar government committee investigating the humanitarian situation in Rakhine state said adhering to the rule of law was the best means to resolve the ongoing crisis, according to an official statement on Friday.

A panel was set up this week to find "pragmatic" solutions to restore "security and the rule of law" in Rakhine, from where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya minority Muslims have fled since an Aug. 25 rebel attack on military and police outposts led to a fierce response by Myanmar's military.

The committee was convened to implement recommendations presented on Aug. 24 by the Advisory Commission, a group of international observers led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

One day before the current violence erupted, Annan had presented a plan to Myanmar authorities to deal with the sectarian problems between the Rohingya and the Buddhist majority gripping Rakhine state.

The UN estimates that at least 370,000 have fled across the border into Bangladesh since Aug. 25.

Myanmar's state councillor and de facto leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has been widely criticized by the international community for her perceived lack of action in protecting the Rohingya from the army's offensive.

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, when asked on Wednesday if he considered the displacement of thousands of Rohingyas to be ethnic cleansing, said "When one-third of the Rohingya population has got to flee the country, can you find a better word to describe it?"

"I call on Myanmar authorities to suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law and recognize the right of return of all those who had to leave the country", Guterres said.

Myanmar state media this week praised China's position "regarding the terrorist attacks in Rakhine", saying that Hong Liang, the Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar, had made it clear that China considers the crisis to be "an internal affair".

This stance has been further reinforced with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam's visit on Friday to Myanmar's capital Naypyitaw, who becomes the first foreign dignitary to travel to Myanmar since the crisis erupted.

Official sources place the death toll at 414, although international human rights organizations fear the number could be significantly higher.