Half a million displaced in 'critical humanitarian crisis' in Myanmar

07 October, 2017, 00:39 | Author: Malcolm Fuller
  • A young Rohingya Muslim refugee collects wood among graves at Kutupalong refugee Camp in Bangladesh's Ukhia district

Refugees in Bangladesh are packed into overcrowded United Nations and makeshift camps along the Myanmar border at increasing risk of disease.

There was widespread scepticism over whether any will be able to return and it remains unclear where the Rohingya would go if they did, since many of their villages have been burnt to the ground.

A small United Nations team visited the crisis-wracked region in majority Buddhist Myanmar in recent days and described witnessing "unimaginable" suffering.

Mark Lowcock, head of the UN's humanitarian office, said: "This flow out of Myanmar has not stopped yet, it's into the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya (who are) still in Myanmar, we want to be ready in case there is a further exodus".

Myanmar has tightly controlled access to the state since then, as the army kickback in the Buddhist-dominated country sent half a million Rohingyas fleeing to Bangladesh.

An estimated 2,000 Rohingya are arriving in Bangladesh every day, Joel Millman of the International Organization for Migration, told a separate briefing.

Queues for food are continuing to swell in refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, as more Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar make the border crossing.

Divided Asean urged to act on Rohingya crisis

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of a potential cholera outbreak among the Rohingya, saying the arrival of vaccines in the affected areas had been delayed.

The UN has labelled Burma's refusal to grant access to Rakhine state - the scene of alleged ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims - as "unnacceptable".

Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to set up a "joint working group" tasked with paving the way for the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees, who have fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar's Muslim-majority Rakhine State.

On reports of mass graves of Hindus found in the violence-hit region, Haque said, "This is part of ethnic cleansing".

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's leader, was criticised for not doing more to intervene - but has since spoken out against any human rights abuses.

STRESSING THAT he has not seen any sign of radicalisation among Rohingya refugees, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque Friday said that he would not comment on India's move to deport them but hoped that "in the end... humanitarian issues will get due consideration".

Up until now they've been living in a range of different refugee camps across southern Bangladesh.

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