In Myanmar, soldiers have free rein to rape Rohingya women
he said. “The whole world is watching and yet doing nothing to stop the killings.”
Shireen Huq, founder member of Naripokkho, Bangladesh’s leading NGO fighting for women’s rights, said: “I was shocked and overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people, mostly women and children, fleeing Myanmar and entering Bangladesh.
“The media has reported widespread atrocities, mass rape, murder, arson and brutality in the state of Rakhain.”
“Women arriving at Nayapara through Shah Porir Dwip were in a state of shock and fatigue. Many of them were candid about the julum (a word used to mean both torture and rape) they had undergone, about being raped by several military men” she said.
“We must ensure appropriate and adequate care for the refugees, especially all those who have suffered sexual violence. They need medical care, psychosocial counselling and abortion services.”
“Agencies working in the Rohingya refugee camps estimate that 50 000 women are pregnant. Several hundred deliveries have already taken place. Round the clock emergency health services must be made available to deal with the situation,” Shireen said.
More than 515 000 Rohingyas have fled the Buddhist-majority country and crossed into Bangladesh since August 25. Densely populated refugee settlements have mushroomed around road from Teknaf to Cox’s Bazar district that borders Myanmar divided by the Naf river. About 2 000 of the refugees are flooding into the camps every day, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
IOM has appealed to the international community for $120m (R1.6bn) between now and February to begin to address the humanitarian crisis.
“The refugees who fled Rakhine did so in the belief that they would find safety and protection in Cox’s Bazar,” William Lacy Swing, IOM’s director-general said in a statement on October 4.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that the suffering that they have experienced on the way must end.”
Meanwhile, witnesses say there are still thousands of refugees in the forest waiting to cross over the Bangladesh border, which has now been officially opened. Many can be seen from distant hilltops, walking with whatever belongings they could take.
“I was struck by the fear that these people carry with themselves, what they have gone through and seen back in Myanmar,” the UN high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, said in a camp recently, where refugees live under thousands of tarpaulins covering the hills and rice paddies.
“Parents killed, families divided, wounds inflicted, rapes perpetrated on women. There’s a lot of terrible violence that has occurred and it will take a long time for people to heal their wounds, longer than satisfying their basic needs,” Grandi said.
DESOLATE: Rohingya people wait in line to receive aid at the Tankhali makeshift camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh after fleeing from oppression in Myanmar’s Rakhine state following a crackdown by the military against Rohingya militants. Some 515 000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar’s western state into Bangladesh, the UN said.