Doctors Without Borders says at least 6,700 Rohingya Muslims were killed in the first month of a brutal army crackdown on Rohingya rebels.
The Geneva-based international aid group, commonly known by its French acronym MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières), says Thursday it came up with its estimate after conducting a survey of several Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. The group says its estimated death toll includes at least 730 children younger than 5.
Myanmar’s military has been accused of launching a scorched earth campaign against Rohingya villages in northwestern Rakhine state in August, in response to attacks on Myanmar police outposts. The campaign led to a mass exodus of 600,000 Rohingyas into neighboring Bangladesh, who told human rights groups of serious atrocities committed by government security forces, including random shootings, rapes and burning down homes and entire villages.
MSF medical director Sidney Wong said the group’s findings were “staggering, both in terms of the numbers of people who reported a family member died as a result of violence, and the horrific ways in which they said they were killed or severely injured.”
The United Nations has described the reported actions carried out by Myanmar forces as “a textbook case of ethnic cleansing.”
Myanmar officials say 400 people were killed during the first months of the crackdown, most of them terrorists.
The Rohingya minority has been denied citizenship and other rights in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which views them as immigrants from Bangladesh, even though many families have lived in Myanmar for generations.