The United Nations refugee agency has asked Bangladeshi authorities for permission to relocate thousands of Burmese refugees in Bangladesh, saying they are living in life-threatening conditions.
The agency's spokeswoman Marie Helene Verney says the joint mission of the UNHCR, the European Commission, and five donor countries recently visited the camp of the ethnic Rohingya refugees from Burma in the Cox's Bazar district.
She said the refugees were living on the tidal mud flats of the Teknaf River in extremely risky and squalid conditions, with no water or sanitation.
The EU said it would provide emergency aid to the refugees once they are moved to safety.
But Bangladesh refuses to help relocate the group, insisting they are illegal immigrants and must return to Burma.