The United Nations envoy for Myanmar met today with the country’s president and discussed the state of emergency that has been declared in northern Rakhine state following the recent outbreak of violence.
The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, is currently in the South-east Asian nation to participate in a meeting with government leaders, including President Thein Sein, in the capital, Naypyitaw.
He and the President discussed the state of emergency and the need for the Government “to continue to handle the situation transparently and with respect for human rights and the rule of law, consistent with President Thein Sein’s recent statement in order that the cycle of violence is broken and the broader reform process not adversely affected,” UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York.
Mr. Nambiar’s visit follows the one made by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in late April, during which he pledged the UN’s continued support for Myanmar as it continues with the process of national reconciliation and democratic transition begun last year by Mr. Sein.
The violence in Rakhine state, reported to be between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, has left at least a dozen civilians dead and hundreds of homes destroyed since last Friday, according to media reports.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today called on Bangladesh to keep its borders open in light of the rapid escalation of violence in Rakhine state, following media reports quoting a statement of the Bangladeshi Border Guard force that it had turned away a number of boats carrying people from Myanmar.
“UNHCR is advocating with the Bangladeshi authorities to allow safe haven on its territory for those who need immediate safety and medical assistance,” spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a news conference in Geneva.
“Previously people have been allowed in to Bangladesh for medical treatment. We hope that such good practices will be maintained,” he added.
The refugee agency is trying to monitor key crossing points along the border between the two countries following the temporary relocation of its staff in the area.
There are presently more than 30,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar living in two camps in the district of Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh. There are an additional 200,000 “unregistered persons of concern” from Myanmar in Bangladesh, for whom UNHCR also advocates.