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Crisis looms as nearly 125,000 refugees flood into Bangladesh

AFP

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Nearly 125,000 mostly Rohingya refugees have entered Bangladesh since a fresh upsurge of violence in Myanmar on August 25, the United Nations said on Tuesday, as fears grow of a humanitarian crisis in the overstretched camps.

The UN said 123,600 had crossed the border in the past 11 days from Myanmar’s violence-wracked Rakhine state.Their arrival has raised fears of a fresh humanitarian disaster as already crowded camps in Bangladesh — home to around 400,000 Rohingya refugees before the latest crisis — struggle to cope with the influx.

Many are sleeping in the open air and are in dire need of food and water after walking for days to reach safety, the UN’s main coordinator in Bangladesh said in a report.

“As a result of flood-like arrivals of new refugees, a massive humanitarian crisis is unfolding here,” said the prominent Bangladeshi rights campaigner Nur Khan Liton.

“People are staying in refugee camps, on the roads, school yards and under open sky. They are clearing forest to create new settlements. There is an acute crisis of water and food.”

The latest unrest broke out when a Rohingya militant group launched a series of coordinated ambushes on Myanmar security posts in response to what it said was a fresh crackdown.

The Rohingya are seen as illegal immigrants in Myanmar and have suffered decades of persecution, according to rights groups.

Unverifiable testimony from those who have fled has alleged tit-for-tat mass killings and villages being torched by the army, Buddhist mobs and Rohingya militants.

In addition to the Rohingya, at least 11,000 Rakhine Buddhists and Hindus have fled arson and attacks by militants to camps inside Myanmar, according to the last government update.