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UN Aid Chiefs to Visit Myanmar's Rakhine State Thursday

  • VOA News

Rohingya Muslim boys, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, cry as Bangladeshi men push them away during distribution of food aid near Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh, Sept 20, 2017.

The United Nations will send several high-ranking members of the agency to Myanmar’s Rakhine state Thursday as it pushes for more humanitarian aid in the region, according to U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

"We have always underscored and stressed our concern about the limited humanitarian access in that area,” he said during a daily briefing. “We welcome this invitation as a first step, and we do hope it will lead to much broader and wider humanitarian access.”

The trip scheduled for Thursday marks the first time a U.N. representative will have visited the Rakhine state since the beginning of the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims.

The U.N. says more than 400,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh to escape persecution by the Myanmar government. According to the agency, 45,000 people have fled to Bangladesh in just the past two days.

A Rohingya Muslim boy, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, pleads with aid workers to give him a bag of rice near Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017.
A Rohingya Muslim boy, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, pleads with aid workers to give him a bag of rice near Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017.

The U.N. announced Tuesday it would increase its humanitarian efforts in Bangladesh, although it warned that the increasing number of refugees arriving in the country has the potential to bring about “enormous hardship” if the flow is not stabilized.

“At the request of the Bangladesh authorities, UNHCR and our partners have scaled up protection and life-saving support to the new arrivals in Kutupalong and Nayapara camps, and extended this support to the informal settlements surrounding these camps,” the agency said in a statement.

Rohingya Muslims, who recently crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wait for their turn to receive food aid near Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017.
Rohingya Muslims, who recently crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wait for their turn to receive food aid near Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017.

According to the U.N. statement, a cargo jet landed Tuesday in Bangladesh stocked with 100 tons of supplies, including emergency shelter kits, kitchen sets, sleeping mats, solar lamps, and other non-food items.

The U.N. refugee agency says it is shocked by an attack carried out by Buddhist monks Wednesday, in which they stormed a safe house for Rohingya refugees and forced United Nations authorities to relocate the group.

The 31 refugees were housed in a detention center outside Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, where they were placed after being found drifting in a boat off the coast earlier this year, fleeing violence in their native Myanmar.

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