270,000 Rohingya flee Myanmar in last two weeks: UN
Geneva [Switzerland], Sept 8 : At least 270,000 Rohingya refugees have fled from the violence affected Myanmar's Northern Rakhine state and sought refuge in Bangladesh where the limited shelter capacity is already exhausted, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday.Amid a dramatic increase in the number of refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar's Northern Rakhine state, UNHCR called for urgent action to address the root causes of the recent surge in violence, so that people are no longer compelled to flee and can eventually return home in safety and dignity.
"In the last two weeks an estimated 270,000 Rohingya refugees have sought safety in Bangladesh. The limited shelter capacity is already exhausted. Refugees are now squatting in makeshift shelters that have mushroomed along the road and on available land in the Ukhiya and Teknaf areas," said a UNHCR said in a briefing in Geneva.
"The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar who have faced discrimination and extreme poverty for decades. They have not been allowed to exercise their basic rights including the freedom to move, right to education, work and other social, civil and political rights. The Rohingya fleeing Myanmar are now stateless refugees, making them even more vulnerable and adding more challenges to the search for solutions," UNHCR added.
The U.N. refugee agency further said that while most of Rohingya refugees arrive on foot, mostly walking through the jungle and mountains for several days, thousands are braving long and risky voyages across the rough seas of the Bay of Bengal.
Expressing concerns over the continuing reports of civilians dying as they try to flee to safety, UNHCR said the vast majority of refugees are women including mothers with newborn babies, families with children and they arrive in poor condition, exhausted, hungry and desperate for shelter.
Citing the two refugee camps in Cox's Bazar in south-east Bangladesh - home to nearly 34,000 Rohingya refugees before this influx , UNHCR said the population has more than doubled in two weeks, totaling more than 70,000 and called urgent need for more land and shelters.
The UN body also called for the registration of all refugees upon arrival, in order to ensure their protection and access to essential services.
Meanwhile, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has called the international community to intervene for the protection of Myanmar's Muslim minority and urged Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi to speak up for the Rohingya.
Bangladesh has strengthened security along its border with Myanmar to prevent the entry of Rohingyas who are trying to cross into its territory illegally due to violence in the Rakhine state that has claimed lives of more than 100 people and displaced 30,000 others.
Myanmar troops launched a crackdown in the Rakhine state in response to attacks on three border posts on October 9 that killed nine police officers, since then many Rohingya Muslims have tried to move into Bangladesh illegally.
Accusations by Rohingyas and rights groups of raping women, torching houses and killing civilians during their operations has been denied by Myanmar and the military.
Rohingyas are not recognised by Myanmar as its citizens and are called Bengali by them.