21,000 Rohingya flee to Bangladesh from Myanmar

Dhaka / AFP

More than 20,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in recent weeks to escape a bloody crackdown by the army in neighbouring Myanmar, humanitarian officials said on
Bangladesh has stepped up patrols on the border to try to stem the tide of refugees since an eruption of unrest in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine in early October. But Sanjukta Sahany, head of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) office in Bangladesh’s southeastern district of Cox’s Bazar bordering Rakhine, said around 21,000 members of the stateless ethnic minority had crossed over in the past two months.
The vast majority of those who arrived took refuge in makeshift settlements, official refugee camps and villages, said Sahany.
“An estimated 21,000 Rohingya have arrived in Cox’s Bazar district between October 9 and December 2,” she said. “It is based on the figures collected by UN agencies and international NGOs” (non-governmental organisations).
The Dhaka office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in a statement also said that they “estimate that there could be 21,000 new arrivals in recent weeks”. Those interviewed by AFP inside Bangladesh told horrifying stories of gang-rape, torture and murder at the hands of Myanmar’s security forces.
Analysis of satellite images by Human Rights Watch found hundreds of buildings in Rohingya villages have been razed.
Myanmar has denied allegations of abuse but has banned foreign journalists and independent investigators from accessing the area.
Myanmar’s Nobel peace laureate and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has faced a growing international backlash for what a UN official has said amounts to a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya, a Muslim group loathed by many of Myanmar’s Buddhist majority.

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