By Fatih Erel
DAVOS, Switzerland (AA) - The UN on Tuesday urged Myanmar to allow unhindered humanitarian access in Rakhine State and create safeguards for return of Rohingya Muslims.
Speaking at a news conference in Geneva, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesperson Adrian Edwards said: "As of today, the necessary safeguards for potential returnees are absent, and there are continued restrictions on access for aid agencies, the media and other independent observers.
"At the same time, refugees from Rakhine State continue to arrive in Bangladesh."
About two months ago, Myanmar and Bangladesh had agreed on an arrangement for the voluntary return to Myanmar of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees currently living in the Cox’s Bazar area in Bangladesh.
Earlier this month, Bangladesh and Myanmar finalized an agreement on the physical arrangements for the repatriation of the Rohingya and agreed to send 100,000 Rohingya to Myanmar in the first phase.
"We call again on Myanmar to allow the necessary unhindered humanitarian access in Rakhine State and create conditions for a genuine and lasting solution," Edwards said.
More than 650,000 refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar since Aug. 25, 2017, when Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to the UN.
At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine state from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24, according to Doctors Without Borders.
In a report published on Dec. 12, 2017, the global humanitarian organization said the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.
The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.