UNHCR Urges Open Borders for People Fleeing Violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In light of the dramatic worsening since Friday of the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has today communicated to the Government of Bangladesh its readiness to support Bangladesh in helping refugees fleeing across the border.

As of Sunday it was estimated that some 5,200 people had entered Bangladesh from Myanmar since Thursday. Several thousand were reported to be in locations along the Myanmar side of the border. UNHCR underscores the UN Secretary-General’s statement of Monday in which he condemned the violence in Rakhine State.

On the Bangladesh side of the border some people are in cordoned off areas near the border, and others are mainly in the Kutupalong area. Most are women, children, or the elderly, and there have been reports of wounded people among them.

Aid efforts involving the Bangladeshi authorities, local communities, UNHCR partners and NGOs have been under way, including to get food, water, and medical help to the new arrivals. UNHCR is grateful to the Bangladeshi authorities for the support being provided. Rapid needs assessments are being planned, however with the precarious situation inside Myanmar we are concerned that numbers of people needing help may rise further over the coming days.

UNHCR is aware of several reported instances of people being prevented from entering Bangladesh. This poses very grave risk to the individuals affected. Bangladesh has hosted refugees from Myanmar for decades, and UNHCR believes it is of the utmost importance that it continue to allow Rohingya fleeing violence to seek safety there. UNHCR also calls on the international community to support Bangladesh in doing so, with all necessary aid and other help.

In Myanmar’s Rakhine State meanwhile, the security situation means that access to populations in need of help is severely restricted. We are appealing to the Myanmar authorities to do everything possible to facilitate humanitarian help and ensure the safety of our staff.

 

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View the original press release HERE.

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