United Nations’ refugee agency UNHCR has urged Bangladesh to keep its Myanmar border open to allow safe passage to civilians fleeing the violence in the northern Rakhine state.
UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards made the appeal at a briefing in Geneva yesterday. Joseph Tripura, an official at the UNHCR Dhaka office confirmed The Daily Star this evening about the briefing.
“UNHCR is deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of civilians in the northern part of Rakhine state, Myanmar. We are urging the government of Myanmar to ensure the protection and dignity of all civilians on its territory in accordance with the rule of law and its international obligations,” Adrian Edwards said.
“We appeal for calm and for humanitarian access to assess and meet the needs of thousands of people who have reportedly been displaced from their homes by the ongoing security operation. The affected population is believed to be in urgent need of food, shelter and medical care,” he added.
UNHCR also urged the government of Myanmar to immediately allow humanitarian actors to resume the life-saving activities they had been carrying out for some 160,000 civilians in northern Rakhine State until such activities were suspended on 9 October.
Myanmar's security forces have killed almost 70 people since taking control of northern Rakhine state last month, the army said, adding that media reports of widespread destruction in the area were "false news".
Troops have poured into a strip of land along the border with Bangladesh, an area largely home to the Muslim Rohingya minority, since deadly raids on police border posts on October 9.
Clashes escalated over the weekend when troops killed more than 30 people in two days of fighting that saw the military use helicopter gunships for the first time.