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UN Team to Access Myanmar's Rakhine for 1st Time

UN Team to Access Myanmar's Rakhine for 1st Time

Thursday, 28 September, 2017 - 05:00
Rohingya Muslims, who recently crossed over from Myanmar, carry food items across from Bangladesh's border towards no man's land where they have set up refugee camps, in Tombru, Bangladesh. AP

Representatives of UN agencies will be permitted to visit Rakhine state in Myanmar on Thursday for the first time since the start of a massive exodus of minority Rohingya Muslims in August.

"There will be a trip organized by the government, probably tomorrow, to Rakhine," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday.

"We hope above all that it is a first step toward much freer and wider access to the area," he said at his daily news briefing.

He said the chiefs of UN agencies would take part in the trip.

The UN has drawn up a contingency plan to feed up to 700,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, and warned that those who fled will not be returning home soon.

"All the UN agencies together have now set a plan for a new influx of 700,000. We can cover if the new influx reaches 700,000," the World Food Program's deputy chief in Bangladesh, Dipayan Bhattacharyya, said on Wednesday.

UN refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi said that for those who have fled to Bangladesh - nearly half a million Rohingya refugees - "return will take time, if it happens, if the violence stops."

The International Organization for Migration has estimated that there are more than 800,000 Rohingya currently in Bangladesh, including those who fled Myanmar before the latest crisis.  

Desperately needing more help, Bangladesh’s junior health minister Zahid Malek said Dhaka has sought US$250 million from the World Bank to provide healthcare to the Rohingya.

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