China: UNHCR calls for access to Myanmar refugees

Briefing Notes, 4 September 2009

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 4 September 2009, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Following reports of refugees fleeing fighting in Myanmar in recent weeks, UNHCR has called on the Chinese authorities to allow us access to the border area and has proposed a joint needs assessment so as to offer support for any possible unmet needs. We hope this request will be positively considered as additional displacement may occur in the region should the situation deteriorate in the Wa State of Myanmar.

We have also expressed our deep appreciation to the Government of China for hosting this population and for everything the authorities in Yunnan Province are reported to have done in terms providing emergency shelter, food, clothing and medical care for the 13,000 or so refugees who are accommodated in seven camp sites. Although we have not been able to visit these locations, the reports we have been receiving have been consistent. We are also aware of reports from the Chinese official media that some of the 37,000 ethnic Chinese Kokang people who crossed into China from Myanmar have begun returning home.

As a protection agency, UNHCR wishes to visit these locations to assist the government in the provision of humanitarian assistance and to determine whether any of the people who remain there are in need of international protection.