The United Nations refugee agency today urged Bangladeshi authorities to ensure that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can continue to provide assistance to unregistered people who have fled the violence in neighbouring Myanmar’s Rakhine state, after reports emerged of Government authorities banning them from carrying out their activities.
“Last Thursday, three non-governmental organizations – Médecins Sans Frontières, Action Contre La Faim and Muslim Aid UK – were ordered by the Bangladeshi authorities to stop their activities in and around unofficial camps near Cox’s Bazar in the southeast,” the spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Adrian Edwards, told reporters in Geneva.

“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 and Kutupalong makeshift sites,” he added, noting that locals nearby will also be affected as they have also been benefitted from basic services provided by the NGOs.

In June, serious disturbances in Rakhine state, located in western Myanmar, led to the country’s Government declaring a state of emergency there. According to reports, the violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims left at least a dozen civilians dead and hundreds of homes destroyed, while affecting some 80,000 people, many of whom fled to Bangladesh.