Bangladesh o ers to shelter refugees
2,000 acres of land given over for new Rohingya camp
Bangladesh has agreed to free land for a new camp to shelter some of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled recent violence in Myanmar, an official said Monday. The new camp will help relieve some pressure on existing settlements in the Bangladeshi border district of Cox’s Bazar, where 313,000 have arrived since Aug. 25, according to the United Nations.
“The two refugees camps we are in are beyond overcrowded,” said UN refugee agency spokeswoman Vivian Tan.
Other new arrivals were being sheltered in schools, or were huddling in makeshift settlements with no toilets along roadsides and in open fields. Basic resources were scarce, including food, clean water and medical aid.
Still, more refugees were arriving.
“Tomorrow we are expecting an airlift of relief supplies for 20,000 people,” Tan said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina offered 2,000 acres (810 hectares) near the existing camp of Kutupalong “to build temporary shelters for the Rohingya newcomers,” according to a Facebook post Monday by Mohammed Shahriar Alam, a junior minister for foreign affairs.
Aid agencies have been overwhelmed by the influx of Rohingya, many of whom are arriving hungry and traumatized after walking days through jungles or packing into rickety wooden boats in search of safety in Bangladesh.
Many tell similar stories of Myanmar soldiers firing indiscriminately on their villages, burning their homes and warning them to leave or to die. Some say they were attacked by Buddhist mobs. On Monday, Bangladesh’s human rights watchdog demanded that atrocities by Myanmar authorities against Rohingya be prosecuted.
“This genocide needs to be tried at international court,” National Human Rights Commission Chairman Kazi Reazul Haque told a news conference in Cox’s Bazar. The violence and exodus began on Aug. 25 when Rohingya insurgents attacked Myanmar police and paramilitary posts in what they said was an effort to protect their ethnic minority from persecution by security forces in the majority Buddhist country.
In response, the military unleashed what it called “clearance operations” to root out the insurgents. Accounts from refugees show the Myanmar military is also targeting civilians with shootings and wholesale burning of Rohingya villages in an apparent attempt to purge Rakhine state of Muslims.
Before Aug. 25, Bangladesh had already been housing more than 100,000 Rohingya who arrived after bloody anti-Muslim rioting in 2012 or amid earlier persecution drives in Myanmar.
Rohingya have faced decades of discrimination and persecution in Myanmar and are denied citizenship despite centuries-old roots in the Rakhine region. Myanmar denies Rohingya exist as an ethnic group and says those living in Rakhine are illegal migrants from Bangladesh.
Tomorrow we are expecting an airlift of relief supplies for 20,000 people. UN refugee agency spokeswoman Vivian Tan
Local Bangladeshis help Rohingya refugees to disembark from a boat on the Bangladeshi side of Naf river on Monday. The number of Rohingya who have led violence in Myanmar since Aug. 25 has reached 313,000, a UN spokesperson said.