This news comment is attributable to Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is appalled by the escalating violence in Myanmar and the resulting human suffering and displacement this is causing.
We are shocked by the indiscriminate violence against civilians across the country, in addition to the renewed fighting between the Myanmar military and ethnic armed groups in some border areas.
These events in Myanmar are driving people to flee within the country and across borders.
We urgently call on countries across the region to offer refuge and protection to all those fleeing for safety. It is vital that anyone crossing the border, seeking asylum in another country, is able to access it.
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.
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 principle of non-refoulement is a cornerstone of international law and is binding on all states.
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.
Across the 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.
Originally published by UNHCR on 31 March 2021.