The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has called for unrestricted humanitarian access to the Rakhine state, as the influx of Rohingya refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar for Bangladesh continued.
UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk made the call at the conclusion to his visit to Myanmar on Wednesday, saying the robust and early involvement of development actors to engage and invest in community-based programmes in Rakhine State was crucial.
According to a press release, Türk also stressed the right of return of refugees who fled from Rakhine State to Bangladesh over recent weeks, and appealed for their safe, voluntary, and sustainable return home.
The UNHCR assistant commissioner arrived in Bangladesh on Friday morning, and will visit a number of the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar over the next four days. He is also set to meet with Bangladeshi authorities in Dhaka.
Also on Friday, Speaking at a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch said: “Some 3,000 refugees arrived through the Anjuman Para border crossing between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. They waited in the paddy fields near the border, where Action Contre la Faim sent food and UNICEF distributed water from a boat.”
Baloch further said that Médecins Sans Frontières identified and brought in people who needed urgent medical attention, while UNHCR distributed tokens for relief supplies to be collected further inland when they find a place to settle.
“As of this morning, more than 2,000 of them have moved towards UNHCR’s transit centre near Kutupalong camp, including some vulnerable refugees who were taken by bus. This comes as our staff just relocated over 400 recent arrivals to a new extension to Kutupalong camp,” he added.