Keep Bangladesh-Burma border open: UNHCR

United Nations’ refugee agency UNHCR has urged Bangladesh to keep Bangladesh – Burma border open to allow safe passage to civilians fleeing the violence in the northern Arakan (Rakhine) state, according to the UNHCR website.
“We are appealing to the government of Bangladesh to keep its border with Myanmar open and allow safe passage to any civilians from Myanmar fleeing violence,” said UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards at a briefing in Geneva on November 18.

Joseph Tripura, an official at the UNHCR Dhaka office confirmed the briefing.

UNHCR does not have access to the 193km Bangladesh- Burma border to verify the situation of persons arriving from Rakhine State. Moreover, Bangladesh’s closed border policy remains in effect.

The UNHCR said it is deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of civilians in the northern part of Rakhine state. The affected population is believed to be in urgent need of food, shelter and medical care.

“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 statement added.

But Bangladesh Coastguards arrested over 125 Rohingyas on November 18, at around 10:00 pm, an activity of human rights from border said.

They were crossing Burma-Bangladesh border with seven boats while they were caught by the Bangladesh Coastguards at night. They were sent back to Burma again on November 19, early morning, the activity said.

According to Bangladesh Coastguards, the boats were carrying 125 people – 34 children, 64 females and 27 males.

However, they were pushed back to Burma due to here is no permission for the Rohingya Muslims to enter the Bangladesh, an officer of coastguard said

On November 15, over 86 Rohingya were arrested from the border and pushed back to Burma by Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB).

Following the temporary relocation of our staff from our office Maungdaw in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State on November 19 and 20, 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, according to UN statement.

UNHCR has not been permitted to register newly arriving Rohingya in Bangladesh since mid-1992. Bangladesh is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol.

“UNHCR reiterates its readiness to provide protection and assistance to the governments and the people of Bangladesh and Myanmar in addressing this evolving humanitarian situation,” said Pia Paguio, senior protection officer and officer-in-charge of UNHCR in Dhaka.

“We thus continue to appeal to the government of Bangladesh to open its borders to those in need of a safe haven,” said Paguino.

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