According to a draft of a statement to be issued after the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat in Chiang Mai on January 17-18, a solution is needed "to address the root causes of the conflict" in Myanmar's Rakhine State, as well as "to create a conducive environment so that the affected communities can rebuild their lives."

In the document, the ministers also affirm their support for Myanmar in bringing back Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh in a safe, secure and dignified manner with the full cooperation of United Nations (UN) agencies.

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Rohingya children during a class in Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia, Bangladesh

On January 9, Knut Ostby, the resident coordinator for the UN in Myanmar, appealed to all sides to intensify efforts to find a peaceful solution to the situation in the Western state, amid concern that there could be an escalation of fighting.

A total of 13 policemen were killed and nine others injured in separatists’ attacks on four police posts in Rakhine on January 4.

The UN official voiced his concern that if there is new major displacement and new need for major humanitarian assistance, current access will not be sufficient to deliver the assistance needed.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said 4,500 people were sheltering in monasteries and communal areas after being displaced by fighting in the past month.

According to the UN, more than 720,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Northern Rakhine state to Bangladesh after Myanmar launched a crackdown in August last year on insurgents amid accounts of arson, murder and rape at the hands of soldiers and vigilante mobs in the mainly Buddhist country.

In June this year, the Myanmar Government reached an agreement with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the UN Development Program to help Rohingya people to return home.

Source: VNA