UNITED NATIONS: An estimated 4,000 to 6,000 refugees from Myanmar have sought safety in India, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said, as the world body voiced concern over the rising levels of displacement of people since the military coup in the country in February.
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said that in Myanmar, as of last week, approximately 60,700 women, children and men have been internally displaced.
More than 1,700 refugees have crossed into Thailand in March and April, most of whom subsequently returned to Myanmar, and an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 have sought safety in India, spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters at the daily press briefing on Wednesday.
Myanmar shares an over 1,600 km long unfenced and porous land border with India as well as a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal. Four North-Eastern states – Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram share the international boundary with Myanmar.
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The UN team in Myanmar has called on all countries across the region to offer refuge and protection to all people seeking safety, while humanitarian workers should be granted access to help them.
Dujarric said that UN officials in Myanmar are still gravely concerned over rising levels of displacement since the military takeover of the government on February 1.
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“Since then, there has been widespread violence against civilians across the country. Clashes between the Myanmar Armed Forces and ethnic armed organisations in border areas have intensified,” he said.
Last week, a statement issued by the spokesperson for the UN chief said that in the 100 days since the Myanmar military takeover, hundreds of civilians had been killed and numerous arbitrary arrests and other human rights violations had been committed. In the wake of such carnage, the Secretary-General has called on Myanmar’s military to respect the will of the people and act in the greater interest of peace and stability in the country.
The Secretary-General has further encouraged ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to swiftly follow through on its own commitments, and the international community to support regional efforts to bring an end to the repression by the military.
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Guterres has also appealed to the international community to respond to the increased humanitarian needs.
The Secretary-General’s special envoy, Christine Schraner Burgener, was in the region and engaged intensively with a range of key stakeholders, including in light of the broader ramifications of the crisis.
India has condemned the violence in Myanmar and condoled the loss of life, as it urged maximum restraint and called for the release of detained leaders, emphasised the situation to be resolved peacefully and underlined its steadfast commitment to democratic transition.
India has also welcomed the ASEAN five-point consensus on Myanmar, which calls for an “immediate cessation” of violence in the country and that all parties should exercise the utmost restraint.
The 15-nation UN Security Council held a private meeting in connection with Myanmar late last month.
India’s permanent representative to the UN, ambassador T S Tirumurti, later tweeted that in the Council, he said India welcomes the ASEAN initiative and five-point consensus. He added that India will strengthen the regional body’s efforts; the Security Council and the UN “should support their efforts.”
He added that India continues to “insist on the release of detained leaders and an end to violence” and that New Delhi’s overall stand on the situation is consistent.