Bangladesh o ers to shel­ter refugees

2,000 acres of land given over for new Ro­hingya camp

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - World -

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

GETTY IM­AGES

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.

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