Bangladeshi police say a boat carrying at least 50 Muslim Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar's Rakhine State for Bangladesh capsized in the Naf River drowning at least five people — four them children. Many more remain missing.
Authorities say rescuers recovered the bodies of one woman and four children from the scene Monday.
Officials say 21 people survived the incident.
More than half a million Rohingyas have crossed the border into neighboring Bangladesh in recent weeks, fleeing a crackdown on their minority community by the Burmese military after Rohingya militants launched deadly attacks on state security forces.
The crackdown, which has resulted in widespread atrocities, has prompted widespread international condemnation, including from France's U.N. ambassador Francois Delattre who last week called it "an ethnic cleansing happening before our eyes.” Myanmar officials have strongly disputed such charges.
On Monday, top United Nations refugee, migration and emergency relief officials issued a statement highlighting the urgent need to help alleviate the "the world's fastest growing refugee crisis."
"Basic services are under severe strain. In some sites, there is no access to potable water, and sanitation facilities are absent, raising health risks for both the refugees and the communities hosting them," the U.N. joint statement noted.
U.N. officials praised the generosity of local communities in Bangladesh and called on all nations to donate relief funds towards a $434 million Joint Response Plan during a pledging conference on October 23.
Fleeing Rohingyas have told harrowing accounts of the military burning their villages in northern Rakhine state, rape, killings, looting and the laying of landmines to prevent people returning to their homes.
U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour has said the crisis is currently “quite possibly the most acute human rights crisis in the world.”