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UNHCR: Bangladesh Needs 'Massive International Assistance' for Rohingya


United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, center, visits newly arrived Rohingya Muslims at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Sept. 23, 2017.

The head of the U.N. refugee agency says Bangladesh needs "massive international assistance" to feed and shelter the Rohingya who have fled Myanmar.

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said Sunday in the Bangladeshi town of Cox's Bazar the needs of more than 430,000 people who have fled violence in Myanmar are enormous and Bangladesh is facing "immense" challenges.

"I spoke to many of the refugees that have just arrived and I must say that on the one hand I was struck by the incredible magnitude of their needs. They need everything, as I said, they need food, they need clean water, they need shelter, they need proper health care, and perhaps the most urgent need is to find them a proper accommodation," he said.

Grandi said an "incredible outpouring of local generosity" needs to be "beefed up by massive international assistance, financial and material".

The latest round of violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state erupted August 25 when a Rohingya insurgent group launched deadly attacks on security posts. Myanmar responded with military "clearance operations" to root out the rebels.

"First and foremost violence has to stop because it is that violence that has caused the flight of the people. Violence has to stop. Access by humanitarian organizations like mine in northern Rakhine have to be fully restored. You know that UNHCR, the World Food Program are maintaining a presence there but our movement is still restricted. This, once the security is reestablished, has to be restored so that we can also help those that have not come over and address their needs."

Grandi said the refugee flow has slowed, but it is impossible to tell whether more would come.

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