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Rights Group: Bangladesh Forcing Burmese Muslims into 'Starvation' Camps

A U.S.-based rights group says Bangladesh has forced tens of thousands of ethnic Rohingya Muslims from neighboring Burma into makeshift camps where they face starvation.

In a report published Tuesday, Physicians for Human Rights describes the Bangladeshi camps as "open air prisons" for unregistered Rohingya refugees. It says they are starving because Bangladesh's government has blocked aid groups from providing food to the camps.

Thousands of Rohingya people have crossed from northern Burma's Rakhine state into Bangladesh in recent years, many fleeing unrest.

Bangladesh is home to an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 Rohingya people but only recognizes 28,000 of them as refugees and calls the others economic migrants who must be repatriated.

Physicians for Human Rights says Bangladesh has been waging a campaign of arbitrary arrest, forced internment and illegal expulsion of Rohingya people to Burma in recent weeks. Bangladesh says allegations of ill-treatment of the Rohingya are "baseless and malicious."

The rights group says Bangladesh is cracking down on Rohingya people in an apparent attempt to dissuade others from crossing the border ahead of elections that Burma's military has promised to hold this year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.