Staff detained, but UNHCR returns to Rakhine

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has started re-establishing its presence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where thousands have been internally displaced due to ethnic violence.

A group of UNHCR employees returned to Rakhine on Wednesday (June 27) to assess humanitarian needs and distribute relief items in 30 camps around the state, an agency spokesperson said. UNCHR is also set to deliver supplies to an additional 35,000 people early this week, Adrian Edwards added.

The newly redeployed team joins colleagues who returned to Rakhine on June 20 and those who chose to remain in the state after the United Nations offered voluntary relocation on June 10, the same day Myanmar President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency there.

UNHCR’s decision to redeploy staff members to Rakhine comes amid reports that up to 12 aid workers were detained this month by local authorities. The United Nations has said it is seeking updates on the situation of the staff members as well as a “formal reply” from the Myanmar government regarding the reasons behind the detentions.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.