This news comment is attributable to Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is urgently appealing to countries in the region to immediately stop forced returns of Myanmar nationals seeking safety from serious harm. Sending them back to the country is placing countless lives at risk.
UNHCR remains gravely concerned about multiple reports of refoulement – the forcible return of refugees and asylum seekers – since February 2021 from countries neighbouring Myanmar. We repeat our call on states to continue offering protection to Myanmar nationals fleeing for safety. This also includes ending the practice of indefinite detention of asylum seekers and refugees from Myanmar.
In Myanmar, acts of indiscriminate violence against civilians continue across the country, as well as fighting between the Myanmar military and ethnic armed groups in some border areas, driving people to flee within the country and across borders.
People fleeing Myanmar must be allowed access to territory to seek asylum and be protected against refoulement. Myanmar nationals already abroad should not be forced to return when seeking international protection.
The principle of non-refoulement is a cornerstone of international law and is binding on all states.
Myanmar’s neighbours have a decades-long history of providing protection and assistance to refugees. We call on them to continue upholding their international legal obligations and lifesaving humanitarian tradition of safeguarding the lives of all those forced to flee.
UNHCR and partner organizations stand ready to step-up support to national and local authorities in the region to ensure that refugees receive the protection they need.