Amid violence in Myanmar, UNHCR calls on Bangladesh to keep its borders open

Briefing Notes, 12 June 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 12 June 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is very concerned about media reports quoting a statement of the Bangladeshi Border Guard force that it had turned away a number of boats carrying people from Myanmar following the rapid escalation of violence in Myanmar's northern Rakhine State. UNHCR is seeking clarification from the Bangladeshi authorities about these and other similar reports.

UNHCR is advocating with the Bangladeshi authorities to allow safe haven on its territory for those who need immediate safety and medical assistance. Previously people have been allowed in to Bangladesh for medical treatment. We hope that such good practises will be maintained.

Following the temporary relocation of our staff from our office Maungdaw in Myanmar's northern Rakhine State on Sunday and yesterday, we are now trying to monitor key crossing points along the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh. We are also trying with difficulty to monitor developments inside northern Rakhine State through people who have contacts with friends or families there. We are hopeful that our staff will be able to return soon as we anticipate there being humanitarian needs.

There are presently more than 30,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar living in two camps in Cox's Bazaar in Bangladesh. There are an additional 200,000 unregistered persons of concern from Myanmar in Bangladesh. UNHCR also advocates for these people.

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