Rohingya refugee count in Bangladesh jumps to 270,000

Rohingya refugee, Rohingya MuslimsGeneva : The refugee crisis engulfing Myanmar and neighboring Bangladesh is far larger than previously believed, according to the latest data released by UN agencies on Friday in Geneva.

An estimated 270,000 million Rohingya Muslims have fled the deadly violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and have arrived in neighboring Bangladesh over the past two weeks, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

The number jumped more than 100,000 above the previous estimate because many arrivals are camping along roads and fields, and aid groups only got a clearer picture of the situation over the past few days, UNHCR spokeswoman Duniya Aslam Khan told a press conference.

IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle added that there was a sharp increase in arrivals on Wednesday, as at least 300 boats arrived in the Bangladeshi fishing port of Cox’s Bazar.

Members of the persecuted Rohingya minority have been fleeing since violence erupted in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state nearly two weeks ago.

Myanmar’s army has launched what it calls a “clearance operation” after Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts and military bases in Rakhine, home to more than 1 million Muslims in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Those who arrived in Bangladesh claim that security forces have killed civilians, burned their homes and driven them away from Rakhine.

Most of the refugees are trekking through the jungle and mountains for days to reach Bangladesh, but there are thousands of others who take the dangerous sea route across the Bay of Bengal.

“Most of the people now crossing the border are women, children and the elderly, many of whom are vulnerable and lack the ability to take care of themselves,” Doyle said.

UNHCR demanded that the root causes of the recent violence be addressed urgently.

—AG/IINA


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