The United Nations human rights office (OHCHR)
and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) have called on Myanmar’s
neighbouring countries to offer refuge and protection to all
those fleeing violence and persecution, as the crisis in
Myanmar enters its third month.
to the political strife across the country, renewed
fighting between Myanmar’s military and ethnic armed
organizations in some border areas, including airstrikes in
Kayin province, are driving people to flee within the
country and across borders.
“Children, women and men fleeing for their
lives should be given sanctuary. They must not be returned
to a place where their lives or freedom may be at risk. This
of non-refoulement is a cornerstone of international law
and is binding on all states”, she said.
raids, killings ‘daily occurrences’
across Myanmar has deteriorated
rapidly since the military
coup on 1 February. According to OHCHR, at
least 510 peaceful protesters have been killed by the
security forces, and over 2,600 are in detentions, including
many held incommunicado or forcibly
“Night raids, mass arrests and killings
have become daily occurrences throughout the country”, the
OHCHR South-East Asia Regional Office said in a news
release on Thursday.
“De facto military
authorities have increasingly resorted to heavy weaponry
such as rocket-propelled and fragmentation grenades, heavy
machine guns, and snipers to kill demonstrators in massive
numbers”, it added.
has also claimed the lives of at least 35 children and left
countless more with serious injuries. Millions have also
been directly or indirectly exposed to traumatizing scenes
of violence, threatening their mental health and emotional
wellbeing, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said
earlier this week.
On Wednesday, Christine Schraner
Burgener, UN Special Envoy on Myanmar, warned
that the security and economic consequences of the crisis in
the wider region are worsening, and the influx of refugees
at the Indian and Thai borders as well as elsewhere
“ominous and likely just the beginning”.
in solidarity’ with people of Myanmar
said that it received reports that some individuals, who
fled Myanmar in search of safety in the region have been
forced to return to the country.
South-East Asia Regional Representative of the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights underscored
that “no one should face the risk of being returned to
Myanmar when their lives, safety or fundamental human rights
“In light of binding obligations
refugee and human rights law, we call on all countries
to ensure that all those seeking asylum are able to access
the protection to which they are entitled under
international law”, she added.
“Now is the time
for us to stand in solidarity with the people of
States in the region should also ensure
effective search and rescue, and refrain from intercepting
or pushing back those who are trying to access sea or land
routes to reach safety, the UN human rights office
‘History of providing
UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner
Triggs also highlighted that Myanmar’s neighbours have a
“decades-long history” of providing protection and
assistance to refugees.
“As the situation in Myanmar
deteriorates further, we call on states to continue their
lifesaving humanitarian tradition of safeguarding the lives
of all those forced to flee”, she urged.
also noted that it is a “proven fact” that humane border
practices can be upheld amid public health and other border
control measures, to ensure that people in need of
protection can access territory and asylum.
region, UNHCR and partner organizations stand ready to
step-up support to national and local authorities to ensure
that refugees receive the protection they need, she
deportations’ while Myanmar is in crisis
human rights office also urged countries to put in place
measures to ensure migrants
from Myanmar – millions of whom live and work across
the region – do not fall into situations of irregularity,
as many may be fearful of returning to renew their
“We call on countries in the region to
suspend deportations of Myanmar migrants who are
undocumented or otherwise in irregular situations, and to
provide them with a secure legal status while their country
remains in crisis”, Ms. Veliko said.
called on the countries to look to safe, non-custodial
alternatives to the detention of undocumented
Avoiding immigration detention is also an
important practical response in light of the heightened risk
transmission within detention centres, the office
UN ‘committed to staying and delivering’
Also on Thursday, the UN Country Team
(UNCT) in Myanmar reiterated
its commitment to “staying and delivering for the people
of Myanmar at this challenging time”.
The UNCT in
Myanmar consists of some 21 UN agencies and offices, which
in addition to their regular programming, have also been providing
humanitarian assistance to nearly a million people –
who were identified at the start of the 2021, including more
than 350,000 internally displaced