UN: 270,000 Rohingya Muslims cross into Bangladesh
More than a quarter of a million Rohingya refugees have crossed into Bangladesh, in the last two weeks, to escape persecution in Myanmar, the UN said Friday.
"270,000 people have now arrived in Bangladesh in search of safety," said Dunya Aslam Khan, spokeswoman of the UN Refugee Agency in a press conference at its headquarters in Geneva.
"Amid a dramatic increase in the number of refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state, UN Refugee Agency calls for urgent action to address the root causes of the recent surge in violence," she added.
She said that refugee camps in Bangladesh had filled beyond their capacity. "Refugees are now squatting in makeshift shelters that have mushroomed along the road and on available land in the Ukhiya and Teknaf areas [near the Myanmar border]."
She called the Rohingya "a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar" which has faced discrimination and poverty for decades.
She added that they have been deprived of their basic rights, including the freedom to move, and get an education or employment.
"The Rohingya fleeing Myanmar are now stateless refugees, making them even more vulnerable," Khan said.
WFP NEEDS $14.8M
"We remain concerned by continuing reports of civilians dying as they try to flee to safety," she added.
The UN World Food Programme said on Friday it urgently needs $14.8 million in order to support the new arrivals to Bangladesh, as well as some 106,000 people living in camps.
Fresh violence erupted in Myanmar's Rakhine state nearly two weeks ago when security forces launched an operation against the Rohingya community.
Bangladesh, which already hosted around 400,000 Rohingya refugees, has faced a fresh influx of refugees since the security operation was launched.
Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, Myanmar security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by security personnel.
In a report, UN investigators said the human rights violations constituted crimes against humanity.
The human rights abuse in Myanmar, where Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's party forms the government, has led to international uproar with several countries including Kuwait, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey demanding an end to the violence.
Turkey's First Lady Emine Erdoğan handed out aid to Rohingya Muslim refugees during a visit to a camp in Bangladesh near the Myanmar border on Thursday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has promised to raise the plight of Rohingya at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 19.