Myanmar has postponed a planned visit by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, The New Age, a Bangladesh daily, reported on January 15.
Myanmar authorities canceled the trip following renewed fighting between government forces and ethnic rebels in Rakhine State.
Thirteen Myanmar police officers were killed by Arakan Army militants on January 4 in attacks near the border with Bangladesh. Grandi was supposed to visit areas where hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya refugees fled from to Bangladesh in 2017.
The UNHCR was supposed to oversee a repatriation of the refugees in accordance with agreements reached between Myanmar and Bangladesh, but The New Age quoted an unnamed UN Security Council diplomat as saying the Myanmar side had “done nothing at all and didn’t particularly want that to be exposed.”
In December, Britain circulated a draft Security Council resolution on Myanmar that would have set a deadline for authorities to come up with a strategy for addressing the Rohingya issue.
Permanent Security Council members China and Russia raised strong objections and refused to take part in negotiations, suggesting that they would use their veto to block the proposed resolution.
It is now uncertain whether a visit by UN special envoy Christine Schraner Burgener to the same area will take place. According to The New Age, there are concerns in UN circles that Myanmar authorities are backtracking on their commitments.
In October last year, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin by November the repatriation of more than 700,000 Rohingyas, but so far no one has returned.
The flight to Bangladesh came in the wake of a Myanmar military crackdown on the Rohingyas, which, in turn, followed attacks by militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in August 2017.
The Arakan Army is another rebel group which draws its recruits from among the Buddhist majority population of Rakhine State.