Sunday Sep 17, 2017
COX‘S BAZAR: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh could die due to a lack of food, shelter and water available for the huge numbers of them fleeing violence in Myanmar, an aid agency warned on Sunday.
Nearly 410,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim minority fled from western Rakhine state to Bangladesh to escape a military offensive that the United Nations has branded a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
“Many people are arriving hungry, exhausted and with no food or water,” Mark Pierce, Bangladesh country director for the Save the Children aid agency said in a statement.
“I’m particularly worried that the demand for food, shelter, water and basic hygiene support is not being met due to the sheer number of people in need. If families can’t meet their basic needs, the suffering will get even worse and lives could be lost.”
Bangladesh has for decades faced influxes of Rohingya fleeing persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where the Rohingya are regarded as illegal migrants.
Bangladesh was already home to 400,000 Rohingya before the latest crisis erupted on Aug. 25, when Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts and an army camp, killing a dozen people.
Pierce said the humanitarian response needed to be rapidly scaled up.
”That can only be done if the international community steps up funding,” he said.
Rights monitors and fleeing Rohingya say the Myanmar security forces and Rakhine Buddhist vigilantes responded to the Aug. 25 insurgent attacks with what they say is a campaign of violence and arson aimed at driving out the Muslim population.
Myanmar rejects that, saying its security forces are carrying out clearance operations against the insurgents of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which claimed responsibility for the August attacks and similar, smaller, raids in October.
The Myanmar government has declared the group a terrorist organization and accused it of setting the fires and attacking civilians.
Bangladesh border guards said on Sunday the flow of refugees leaving Myanmar had eased off over the past day, apparently because bad weather had discouraged people from taking to boats to reach Bangladesh.