UN re­ports ‘alarm­ing’ rise in Ro­hingya refugee numbers

Sunday News - - WORLD -

DHAKA An es­ti­mated 270,000 Ro­hingya Mus­lims have sought refuge in Bangladesh over the past two weeks, the United Na­tions refugee agency says, a dra­matic jump in the numbers flee­ing vi­o­lence in neigh­bour­ing Myan­mar’s Rakhine state.

The UN High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees said the es­ti­mated num­ber of Ro­hingya who had fled to Bangladesh since vi­o­lence erupted in Myan­mar on Au­gust 25 had risen from 164,000 on Thurs­day, after aid work­ers found big groups in bor­der ar­eas.

‘‘The numbers are so alarm­ing – it re­ally means that we have to step up our re­sponse and that the sit­u­a­tion in Myan­mar has to be ad­dressed ur­gently,’’ said Vi­vian Tan, a spokes­woman for UNHCR.

The wave of refugees, many of them sick or wounded, has strained the re­sources of aid agen­cies and com­mu­ni­ties al­ready help­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands dis­placed by pre­vi­ous waves of vi­o­lence in Myan­mar. Many have no shel­ter, and aid agen­cies are rac­ing to pro­vide clean wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion and food.

‘‘We need to pre­pare for many more to come, I am afraid,’’ said Shinni Kubo, Bangladesh coun­try man­ager for UNHCR.

Crit­ics have ac­cused Myan­mar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi of not speak­ing out for the Ro­hingya, and some have called for the No­bel Peace Prize she won in 1991 as a cham­pion of democ­racy to be re­voked.

She has been con­demned by GETTY IM­AGES fel­low No­bel peace lau­re­ates. Arch­bishop Des­mond Tutu yes­ter­day called on her to speak out against the ‘‘un­fold­ing hor­ror’’ and ‘‘eth­nic cleans­ing’’, warn­ing: ‘‘If the po­lit­i­cal price of your as­cen­sion to the high­est of­fice is your si­lence, the price is surely too steep.’’ Reuters, The Times

Ro­hingya refugee Hus­sein Ahmed stands by the bed of his son Mohammad Touha, 16, who was shot in the neck by Myan­mar sol­diers as he fled his village, at a hos­pi­tal in Chit­tagong, Bangladesh.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.