Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh nears 300,000: UN

Bangladesh braces for new surge after nearly 300,000 Rohingya Muslims flee Myanmar's Rakhine State in last 15 days.

10 September 2017, 10:22am
Most of the Rohingya are arriving by foot or boat across Bangladesh's 278km (172 mile) border with Myanmar (Danish Siddiqui /Reuters)
Most of the Rohingya are arriving by foot or boat across Bangladesh's 278km (172 mile) border with Myanmar (Danish Siddiqui /Reuters)
Nearly 300,000 Rohingya Muslims have left Myanmar's Rakhine state into Bangladesh in the 15 days after new violence erupted. The United Nations is braced for a further surge, officials said.

The exodus figure has increased to about 20,000 in a day. Plans to build a camp that could house a quarter of a million people are underway, Bangladesh authorities say.

"Some 290,000 Rohingya arrived in Bangladesh since August 25," Joseph Tripura, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency told AFP news agency.

New violence started on August 25 after Rohingya fighters attacked police posts in Rakhine, triggering harsher security forces crackdown.

Those who have fled across the border have accused the Myanmar military of staging attacks on Muslim villages.

Officials said the UN has found more Rohingya in Bangladesh villages and areas previously not supported by relief agencies.

Agencies are now bracing for a new increase in numbers.

Dipayan Bhattacharyya, acting World Food Programme (WFP) head in Bangladesh, told AFP "the situation is very volatile."

"We started with planning for an influx of 120,000. Then we made a resource planning for 300,000. The current influx has almost now reached 300,000." Bhattacharyya said.

Most of the Rohingya are arriving by foot or boat across Bangladesh's 278 km border with Myanmar.

The Rohingya have long been subjected to discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which denies them citizenship.

Myanmar's government regards them as illegal migrants from Bangladesh, even if they have lived in the country for generations.

Refugee camps near Bangladesh's border with Myanmar already had about 300,000 Rohingya before the upsurge in violence last month and are now overwhelmed.

Tens of thousands of new arrivals have nowhere to shelter from monsoon rains that haunt the Bangladesh area.

Those flocking into Bangladesh have given harrowing accounts of killings, rape and arson by Myanmar's army, while authorities denied any wrongdoing.