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Thousands of Stranded Rohingya Refugees Allowed into Bangladesh

  • Lisa Schlein

A Rohingya refugee man lies at his shelter in Kutupalong refugees camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, Oct. 20, 2017.

Aid agencies report nearly 7,000 Rohingya refugees stranded in dire conditions on the Bangladesh side of the border with Myanmar have been allowed to enter the country of refuge.

The refugees, who were stranded for four days in no-man's land, are now being assisted by aid agencies in Cox's Bazar. The agencies say the Rohingya refugees were moved by the Bangladesh military to several makeshift settlements where they are being given food, water, medical checks and temporary shelter.

Spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, Joel Millman, said the refugees told aid workers heartbreaking stories about their perilous escape from Myanmar, "talking about families, saying that they could take only some of their children from Myanmar and left others behind with neighbors, people who walked for 11 days."

"There was one individual, Mohammed Hanun, who said he trekked for 11 days before reaching no-man's land on the border," added Millman. "And he waited there for three days without food before finally reaching Kutupalong, the settlement town, Thursday morning."

Rohingya refugees, who crossed the border from Myanmar two days before, walk after they received permission from the Bangladeshi army to continue on to the refugee camps, in Palang Khali, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh October 19, 2017.
Rohingya refugees, who crossed the border from Myanmar two days before, walk after they received permission from the Bangladeshi army to continue on to the refugee camps, in Palang Khali, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh October 19, 2017.

Nearly 600,000 Rohingya have fled violence in Myanmar since late August, and agencies say more are on their way to Bangladesh.

U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman Duniya Aslam Khan told VOA that her agency is sending in large quantities of shelter materials and other relief supplies. However, she said the UNHCR cannot keep pace with the mass exodus.

"It is not that we are not responding to the needs of people," she added. "It is just the scale and the speed of this whole crisis is just so unprecedented."

The United Nations will be holding a large pledging conference Monday in Geneva to solicit international support for the Rohingya crisis. U.N. agencies require $434 million to meet the life-saving needs of 1.2 million people in the next few months. The beneficiaries include all Rohingya refugees and their host communities.

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