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UN aid chiefs to access Myanmar’s Rakhine


Staff from the United Nations (UN) and International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) depart from Sittwe airport, in Sittwe, Rakhine State, western Myanmar, 28 August 2017. Photo: Nyunt Win/EPA

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.

The United Nations has been demanding access since its humanitarian organizations were forced to pull out of Rakhine when Myanmar's military launched operations against Rohingya terrorists in late August, causing hundreds of thousands to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh.

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

"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.

- 'Return will take time' -

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

© AFP

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