GENEVA - U.N. agencies report about 270,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled violence and persecution in mainly Buddhist Myanmar over the past two weeks in search of refuge in neighboring Bangladesh. Unconfirmed media reports say more than 1,000 may have been killed by the Myanmar army since August 25 when violence erupted in that country's northern Rakhine state.
Aid agencies are scaling up their emergency relief for Muslim Rohingya in Bangladesh to meet the needs of the burgeoning refugee population. They say limited shelter capacity has been exhausted and refugees are living in makeshift shelters that have mushroomed along the road.
U.N. refugee spokeswoman Duniya Aslam Khan says refugee camps are overloaded and unable to accommodate any more people.
“The two refugee camps in Bangladesh, Kutupalong and Nayapara, that were previously home to 34,000 Rohingya refugees before this new influx, are now bursting at seams. The population has more than doubled in two weeks, totaling more than 70,000. There is an urgent need for more land and shelters.”
The International Organization for Migration is allocating $1 million from its emergency fund to provide shelter, drinking water, food and medical assistance to the refugees. IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle tells VOA the refugees have no resources and are in urgent need of life-saving aid.
“They are in a desperate, absolutely desperate humanitarian state, without enough to eat…They are saying that they are living out in the open, without shelter from the tropical sun, without shelter from the rain; with their children, without enough food to eat.”
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says it is releasing $7 million from the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund to help the thousands of destitute people who continue to flood into Bangladesh.