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Thousands of Rohingya flee Myanmar for Bangladesh

Violence in Myanmar sparked crackdown that amounted to ethnic cleansing of Rohingya

AFP| PTI  |  Dhaka 

Rohingya Muslim women look outside as many new refugees arrive near the Kutupalang Refugee Camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Reuters
Rohingya Muslim women look outside as many new refugees arrive near the Kutupalang Refugee Camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Reuters

Thousands of Rohingya have crossed into since announced a build-up in Rakhine state earlier this month, community leaders said on Wednesday.

Rakhine in northern has been gripped by violence since October, when attacked


That sparked a bloody crackdown that the believes may amount to ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, a mainly Muslim minority living in Buddhist

On August 12 authorities in said hundreds of troops had moved into Rakhine as it ramps up efforts there.

Rohingya leaders in told AFP that at least 3,500 had arrived since then, piling pressure onto already overcrowded in the Cox's Bazaar area near the Naf river that divides the two countries.

That is despite stepped-up patrols by Bangladeshi border and coast guards, who said this week they had pushed back a boat carrying 31 Rohingya, including children.

"In the Balukhali camp alone, some 3,000 Rohingya arrived from their in Rakhine," said Abdul Khaleq, referring to the camp nearest the river, where most of the migrants stay when they first arrive.

Kamal Hossain, a Rohingya elder in another, camp, said nearly 700 families had arrived in in the past 11 days.

Many were sleeping in the open because there was no more space in the camps, he said.

Mohammad Omar, a 28-year-old Rohingya who had just arrived along with 40 relatives, said he had been attacked by local Buddhists who looted Rohingya homes in Rakhine.

Buddhist-majority has long faced criticism for its treatment of the more than one million Rohingya who live in Rakhine, who are seen as interlopers from Bangladesh, denied citizenship and access to basic rights.

Dhaka estimates that nearly 400,000 Rohingya refugees are living in squalid and makeshift settlements in Cox's Bazar.

They included more than 70,000 who arrived in the months that followed the crisis in October, many bringing stories of systematic rape, murder and arson at the hands of soldiers.

But Rohingya are also increasingly unwelcome in Muslim- majority Bangladesh, where police often blame them for crimes such as drug trafficking.

Dhaka has floated the idea of relocating tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees to a remote, flood-prone island off its coast, despite opposition from rights groups.

First Published: Wed, August 23 2017. 20:56 IST
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