As the number of Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh surpassed 400,000, UN agencies are scaling up their efforts to assist the displaced people with Secretary-General António Guterres renewing his call to Myanmar to take steps to address the crisis.
“We’re all shocked by the dramatic escalation of sectarian tensions in Myanmar’s Rakhine state,” Guterres said in his address to the opening of the General Assembly’s high-level debate.
“A vicious cycle of persecution, discrimination, radicalisation and violent repression has led more than 400,000 desperate people to flee, putting regional stability at risk,” he was quoted as saying in a news release UNB obtained from the UN News Centre on Wednesday.
He stressed that the authorities in Myanmar must end the military operations, allow unhindered humanitarian access and recognise the right of refugees to return with safety and dignity.
They must also address the grievances of the Rohingya, whose status has been left unresolved for far too long, he added.
Marzuki Darusman, the Chairperson of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that it is clear that there is a ‘grave humanitarian crisis’ underway that requires urgent attention.
In addition to the over 400,000 people who have sought refuge in Bangladesh since 25 August, Darusman noted that there are reports that nearly 200 Rohingya villages in the affected areas have been emptied.
“It’s important for us to see with our own eyes the sites of these alleged violations and abuses and to speak directly with the affected people and with the authorities,” he stated, noting that the Commission has requested the government of Myanmar for unfettered access to the country.
As the number of those crossing the border into Bangladesh increases, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is ramping up its operations, including moving new arrivals into family tents and temporary communal shelters at a new extension site next to the Kutupalong camp near Cox’s Bazar.
Spokesperson Duniya Aslam Khan told a news conference in Geneva that refugees have told UNHCR staff that they suffered from cold and rain during their treks from Myanmar.