China is being urged to protect thousands of refugees from Myanmar who have fled fighting between government troops and rebels in the volatile Kachin state.
The appeal comes from the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) which says that up to 5,000 people, the majority of them children, have been returned since mid-August and are living in makeshift camps.
Adrian Edwards from UNHCR says those forced back were afraid to return to their villages and were in desperate need of food, medicines, shelter and other relief supplies.
"Some of them say that the local authorities took down their shelters in China. Others report that plainclothes policemen put them on trucks, loading their belongings on to other trucks, and driving them to the borders. Local groups and partners say they expect more people to be sent back from China. UNHCR is urging the government of China to offer temporary protection to those who fled the fighting, to respect their humanitarian needs and not send them back to a situation where their safety and livelihood could be at risk. We’re ready to support China in assisting these people until the situation stabilizes in their home areas." (Duration 34")
UNHCR says despite repeated requests to the Chinese authorities, it has not been able to reach or assist the groups of refugees from Myanmar living along the Chinese side of the border.