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Allow NGOs to help Rohingyas, UNHCR urges Bangladesh govt

Publication Date : 09-08-2012


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has appealed to the Bangladesh government to allow non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to continue humanitarian aid for unregistered people from Myanmar's Rakhine state who have taken shelter in the country.

On August 2, the government ordered three NGOs -- Medecins Sans Frontieres, Action Contre La Faim and Muslim Aid UK -- to stop activities in and around unofficial camps near southeastern Bangladesh district of Cox's Bazar.

The government order banning NGO activities came when hundreds of Rohingyas were trying to enter Bangladesh following sectarian violence in Myanmar's Rakhaine state that left around 80 dead in June and July.

"If the order is implemented, it will have a serious humanitarian impact on some 40,000 unregistered people who had fled Myanmar in recent years and settled in the Leda [of Teknaf] and Kutupalong [of Ukhia] makeshift sites," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva.

"Local villagers nearby will also be affected as they, too, have been benefiting from basic services provided by the NGOs," he added.

UNHCR also urged the government to reconsider its decision in the light of its long tradition of hospitality towards people who have fled Myanmar over the years.

In addition to the unregistered population, there are some 30,000 registered people living in two official camps in Cox's Bazar.

Meanwhile, UNHCR is keeping an eye on the northern Rakhine state, following reports of renewed violence there.

The UN refugee agency has received unverified accounts of some villages being burnt in the Kyauk Taw township north of the state capital, Sittwe. Many of the young men there have reportedly fled, leaving women and children behind.

The United Nations and its humanitarian partners have drawn up a response plan to assist some 80,000 people who have been displaced or are otherwise affected in Rakhine state since inter-communal clashes broke out in early June.

UNHCR has so far distributed emergency aid -- plastic sheets, blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and kitchen utensils -- to more than 40,000 people.

It is also mobilising its relief stocks in Cox's Bazar for delivery by boat across the Naf river to Rakhine state once it obtains permission.


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