Ro­hingya Mus­lims flee­ing Myan­mar vi­o­lence in des­per­ate need of food, shel­ter

Ro­hingya Mus­lims flee­ing Myan­mar vi­o­lence are in des­per­ate need of food and shel­ter as the mass ex­o­dus of Ro­hingya Mus­lims, in­clud­ing 240,000 chil­dren, con­tin­ues

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Regional -

RO­HINGYA Mus­lims from Myan­mar's restive Rakhine state con­tinue to stream into Bangladesh, but the avail­abil­ity of re­lief goods is scarce and aid dis­tri­bu­tion is chaotic.

The sup­ply of re­lief goods re­mains in­ad­e­quate, as some 400,000 Ro­hingya Mus­lims, mostly women and chil­dren, crossed into Bangladesh af­ter deadly eth­nic vi­o­lence erupted in Myan­mar's Bud­dhist-ma­jor­ity Rakhine state on Aug. 25.

The U.N. chil­dren's agency said Friday it es­ti­mates 240,000 chil­dren have fled Myan­mar's Rakhine state into neigh­bor­ing Bangladesh over the last three weeks.

UNICEF spokes­woman Mar­ixie Mer­cado says that fig­ure - amount­ing to about 60 per­cent of the es­ti­mated 391,000 to­tal refugees - in­cludes about 36,000 chil­dren aged un­der 1 year old. She says the agency also es­ti­mates 52,000 preg­nant and lac­tat­ing women.

Mer­cado said that in­cludes an es­ti­mated 1,100 un­ac­com­pa­nied mi­nors who had crossed over the past week. She spoke at a reg­u­lar brief­ing in Geneva on Friday that in­cluded com­ments from many U.N. agen­cies that were ad­dress­ing the cri­sis in Bangladesh.

"As ev­ery­body here is go­ing to tell you, the needs are seem­ingly end­less and the suf­fer­ing is deep­en­ing," Mer­cado said.

Chris Lom, Asia-Pa­cific spokesman for the U.N.'s In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Mi­gra­tion, said by phone in the brief­ing that the fig­ures amounted to rough es­ti­mates, adding, "there's not some­body with a clipboard reg­is­ter­ing them" as the peo­ple cross the bor­der.

Lack of co­or­di­na­tion has pro­duced a chaotic sit­u­a­tion as pri­vate busi­nesses, vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tions and well-off peo­ple dis­trib­ute sup­plies on their own, said an of­fi­cial at the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

"Three weeks into the cri­sis, we could not make it hap­pen be­cause no one was pre­pared for such an in­flux," Joseph Tripura of UNHCR told dpa on Thurs­day.

The U.N.'s World Food Pro­gram, which launched a food dis­tri­bu­tion scheme, had reached only 60,000 peo­ple as of Tues­day.

Turkey has been ex­ert­ing great ef­fort to solve the cri­sis in Myan­mar and to lend sup­port to Ro­hingya Mus­lims.

Turkey has ramped up its ef­fort to find a diplo­matic so­lu­tion in Myan­mar Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Sept. 1 called on Bangladesh to open its doors to Ro­hingya Mus­lims flee­ing vi­o­lence in Myan­mar's western Rakhine state. The chair­man of Ro­hingya European coun­cil, Dr. Hyle Law and Mo­ham­mad Ibrahim, a Ro­hingya European coun­cil mem­ber, said, “Ro­hingya Mus­lims are pray­ing for Turkey." Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan on Sept. 6 an­nounced that Turkey will dis­trib­ute 10,000 tons of aid to Ro­hingya Mus­lims. For­eign Min­is­ter Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Turkey's first lady Emine Er­doğan on Sept. 7 vis­ited a refugee camp in Bangladesh to lend sup­port to Ro­hingya Mus­lims flee­ing vi­o­lence in Myan­mar's Rakhine state. The pres­i­dent also vowed to bring up the Ro­hingya is­sue dur­ing the U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly set for Sept. 20 in New York, adding that he dis­cussed the cri­sis in Rakhine with nearly 30 world lead­ers, es­pe­cially of Is­lamic coun­tries.

Ro­hingya, de­scribed by the U.N. as the world's most per­se­cuted peo­ple, have faced height­ened fears of at­tack since dozens were killed in com­mu­nal vi­o­lence in 2012.

Smoke rises on Myan­mar's side of bor­der as an old Ro­hingya refugee woman is car­ried af­ter cross­ing the Bangladesh-Myan­mar bor­der by boat through the Bay of Ben­gal, Sept. 15.

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