Humanitarian crisis hits Bangladesh as thousands of Rohingya flee Myanmar

Posted September 01, 2017

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), an estimated 19,000 Rohingya registered themselves in Bangladesh since Wednesday.

A boat carrying some Rohingya people, a Muslim minority living in the neighboring country, sank last night at 23:30 local time on the river shortly after crossing the border, said M. Mainuddin Khan, a spokesman for the Bangladeshi police. Police said some of those detained had entered Bangladesh via the Ghumdhum border area, where Myanmar forces are now engaged in an operation against armed militias.

On Thursday, a Border Guard Bangladesh commander told AFP that 71 newly arrived Rohingya had been arrested for entering the country illegally and told to go back, though he said they had not been forced to return.

Issuing a message Thursday celebrating Qurban Bayram (Feast of Sacrifice), also known as Eid al-Adha, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on the nation to pray for Rohingya Muslims facing violence in Myanmar. He called on the worldwide community and rights groups to apply pressure on the Myanmar government.

Fleeing homes in Myanmar's restive Rakhine State in the wake of killing, looting, arson attacks, tens of thousands of Rohingya have desperately been seeking safety in Bangladesh. He said the bodies of 15 children and 11 women were recovered, and it was unclear whether anyone was still missing.

Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, a Rohingya monitoring group, said it appeared Myanmar security forces were trying to drive out much of the Rohingya population.

"What we're hearing is burning, burning, burning", she said. They say funding for enough rice to feed all the people who have crossed since October "may be problematic". "And it seems to be spreading from south to north". Many had hoped that Myanmar's democratically elected government, which took over 18 months ago amid a transition from military rule, could take steps to alleviate the conflict and end the underlying human rights abuses of the Rohingya minority. It comes hours after Myanmar forces opened fire on escaping civilians.

Myanmar state media reported Tuesday that more than 110 people had died since Friday's "coordinated attacks by extremist terrorists". Bangladesh is also growing increasingly hostile to Rohingya, more than 400,000 of whom live in the South Asian country after fleeing Myanmar since the early 1990s.