18,000 Rohingya flee violence in Myanmar into Bangladesh
— At least 18,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled fresh violence in Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh in less than a week, with hundreds stranded in no man’s land at the countries’ border, the International Organization for Migration said Wednesday.
Sanjukta Sahany, a spokeSwoman for the organization in Cox’s Bazar, on the Bangladesh border with Myanmar, released the latest figures as human rights groups and advocates for the Rohingya say the Myanmar army was retaliating for attacks last week by Rohingya militants by burning down villages and shooting civilians.
The Myanmar government blames Rohingya insurgents for the violence, including the arson. Government figures put the death toll since last week at a minimum of 103, including 12 members of security forces, 77 persons described as insurgents and 14 civilians.
Rohingya advocates fear hundreds of civilians may have been killed in army raids.
A report issued Wednesday by Myanmar’s Information Ministry said that 45 improvised explosive devices were detonated and seven villages, one security post and two neighborhoods in the township of Maungdaw burned down on Sunday and Monday.
Maungdaw, in the northern part of Rakhine state, is a center for the violence, though villages over a much wider area were also hit.
A majority of Myanmar’s estimated 1 million Rohingya live in northern Rakhine, where they have faced persecution in the Buddhist-majority country that refuses to recognize them as a legitimate native ethnic minority, leaving them without citizenship and basic rights.
Sahany said the Rohingya crisis was not an issue between Myanmar and Bangladesh but of international concern.
Ali Hossain, Cox’s Bazar district’s top government official, told The Associated Press that their resources were under huge stress after some 87,000 Rohingya entered Bangladesh since October last year and another 18,000 since last Friday.
“I have already informed the government’s high-ups about the trouble we are facing here,” he said. “This is a very complex situation.”