11 July 2024

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called on governments of Southeast Asian countries to provide protection to people fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar, and to guarantee that these refugees and undocumented migrants are not forced back to Myanmar against their will.

In a statement, issued Thursday, the OHCHR said it has received reports that some of these asylum seekers have been forced to return to their home country.  It added that at least one boat carrying refugees is currently adrift in the Andaman Sea, unable to find safe disembarkation options.

It also said that all states, coastal or otherwise, should cooperate to identify safe places to land these vulnerable people and ensure that rights-based, regional solutions are found.

“No one should face the risk of being returned to Myanmar when their lives, safety or fundamental human rights are threatened,” said Cynthia Veliko, Southeast Asia Regional Representative of the OHCHR in Bangkok.

“Now is the time for us to stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar,” she said, adding “In light of binding obligations under international refugee and human rights laws, we call on all countries to ensure that all those seeking asylum are able to access the protections to which they are entitled.”