In Myan­mar, sol­diers have free rein to rape Ro­hingya women

The New Age (Northern Cape) - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Naimul Haq is an IPS cor­re­spon­dent

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.

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