China: UN seeks access to newly-arrived Myanmar refugees

4 September 2009 – The United Nations refugee agency today called on China to allow it access to civilians who recently arrived in Yunnan province after fleeing violence in north-eastern Myanmar, and proposed a joint needs assessment to offer support for any possible unmet needs.“We hope this request will be positively considered as additional displacement may occur in the region should the situation deteriorate in the Wa state of Myanmar,” Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva.

The 13,000 or so refugees, who reportedly fled fighting in early August between Myanmar Government troops and ethnic minority groups, are being accommodated in seven camp sites in Yunnan province.

UNHCR thanked the Chinese Government for hosting them and the provincial authorities for their assistance, including emergency shelter, food, clothing and medical care.

“As a protection agency, UNHCR wishes to visit these locations to assist the Government in the provision of humanitarian assistance and to determine whether any of the people who remain there are in need of international protection,” said Mr. Mahecic.

He added that the agency is aware of reports from the Chinese media that some of the 37,000 ethnic Chinese Kokang people who crossed into China from Myanmar have begun returning home.

[original]

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