GENEVA - The U.N. refugee agency says it is worried by reports of people fleeing escalating violence in Myanmar's southern Chin State and Rakhine State, adding to growing instability in these regions.
The U.N. refugee agency says it cannot assess the scale of the current humanitarian situation in these volatile areas because it has little access to these and other regions in Myanmar.
But the UNHCR says reports it has received of the deteriorating security situation in southern Chin State and Rakhine State are very worrying. It says it does not know how many people have fled their homes and have become internally displaced since violence flared up there in December.
Additionally, in Rakhine State, UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic said a number of Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh in search of asylum.
"We understand from some of the reports that some 200 people have sought shelter, have sought safety. This is reportedly in a very remote area where we do not really have access," he said.
More than 720,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017 to escape persecution and violence in Myanmar. Because of previous refugee crises in Myanmar, Bangladesh currently is home to nearly one million Rohingya refugees.
The UNHCR praises the country's generosity and appeals to the authorities to continue to allow people fleeing violence in Myanmar to seek safety in Bangladesh.
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is a predominantly Buddhist country. It has a long history of tension with its ethnic minorities, much of it based on religion. Southern Chin State is the only State in Myanmar with a Christian majority. It also is the poorest and least developed region in the country.
The large Rohingya Muslim population in Rakhine State continues to suffer discrimination and repression from the majority Buddhist community. Though they have lived in Myanmar for generations, the Rohingya are denied citizenship and remain stateless.