UNITED NATIONS– UN officials hope a scheduled visit by the heads of UN agencies in Myanmar to northern Rakhine state, home of the Rohingya refugees, will be a breakthrough for rendering humanitarian aid to the region, the chief UN spokesman said.

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that heads of UN agencies in Myanmar will participate in a government-sponsored trip to northern Rakhine state Thursday.

“We have always underscored and stressed our concern about the limited humanitarian access in that area,” he told reporters at UN Headquarters. “So, we welcome this invitation as a first step and we do hope that it will lead to much broader and wider access.”

The UN agencies have been prevented since Aug 25 from carrying out its work in the area, unable to organise and distribute aid, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told reporters at the UN’s Geneva headquarters Wednesday.

He had just returned from a visit to Bangladesh, which hosts more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees.

Since Aug 25, UN work has been entrusted to the International Committee of the Red Cross as an interim move, said Grandi. But the Red Cross also has had problems accessing the areas in greatest need, he said.

It was on Aug 25 that rebel Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) soldiers staged deadly attacks on police outposts, touching off retributions against Rohingyas allegedly by burning their villages and chasing them out of Rakhine into neighboring Bangladesh.

After visiting makeshift camps in Bangladesh, the high commissioner said he was struck by the extent of the needs of the newly arrived refugees who he said had absolutely nothing.

He also pointed out the high level of trauma faced by the refugees, saying several women he spoke to said they had been raped or wounded for resisting rape.

Grandi also praised the people and government of Bangladesh for their generosity and show of solidarity, also commending the decision to keep borders open and to allow people into refugee camps in the country.