Business Standard

Nearly 90,000 Rohingyas escape Myanmar violence

- SIMON LEWIS & WA LONE

Nearly 90,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh since violence erupted in Myanmar in August, pressuring scarce resources of aid agencies and communitie­s already helping hundreds of thousands of refugees from previous spasms of violence in Myanmar.

The bloodshed in Myanmar's northweste­rn Rakhine state was triggered by an attack on August 25 on dozens of police posts and an army base by Rohingya insurgents. The ensuing clashes and a military counter-offensive have killed at least 400 people.

Myanmar officials blamed Rohingya militants for the burning of homes and civilian deaths but rights monitors and Rohingya fleeing to neighbouri­ng Bangladesh say the Myanmar army is trying to force Rohingyas out with a campaign of arson and killings. The treatment of Buddhist-majority Myanmar's roughly 1.1 million Muslim Rohingyas is the biggest challenge facing leader Aung San Suu Kyi, accused by Western critics of not speaking out for the minority that has long complained of persecutio­n.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has come under increasing diplomatic pressure from countries with large Muslim population­s such as Bangladesh, Turkey, Indonesia and Pakistan to protect Rohingya civilians.

The number of those crossing the border into Bangladesh — 87,000 — surpassed the number who escaped Myanmar after a series of much smaller insurgent attacks in October that set off a military operation beset by accusation­s of serious human rights abuses.

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