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World

AFP
September 14, 2017

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Exodus of Rohingya Muslims fleeing genocide in Myanmar hits 379,000

Exodus of Rohingya Muslims fleeing genocide in Myanmar hits 379,000

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh: Some 379,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state for Bangladesh since new violence erupted last month, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

The figure has risen by 9,000 in 24 hours, according to UN refugee agency spokesman Joseph Tripura told AFP. Bangladesh authorities are now registering new arrivals and building a massive new camp near the border with Myanmar to accommodate the influx.

"We’ve already started shifting thousands of people to this camp where we’re building sheds for them," Ali Hossain, government administrator for Cox’s Bazar district, told AFP. Attacks by Rohingya militants on Myanmar security forces in Rakhine on August 25 sparked a harsh military crackdown on the minority Muslim community and the exodus started almost straight away.

Rohingya people have long been subjected to discrimination in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar, which denies them citizenship. There were more than 300,000 Rohinya in refugee camps and makeshift settlements in Bangladesh even before the latest unrest.

These are now completely overwhelmed and tens of thousands of new arrivals have no shelter. Most walked for days to reach Bangladesh and aid workers say many are sick and in desperate need of food.

Aid agencies have to step up operations "massively" in response to the arrival in Bangladesh of about 400,000 refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar, and the amount of money needed to help them has risen sharply, a senior UN official said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Al-Qaeda militants have called for support for Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, who are facing a security crackdown that has sent about 400,000 of them fleeing to Bangladesh, warning that Myanmar would face "punishment" for its "crimes".

The exodus of Muslim refugees from Buddhist-majority Myanmar was sparked by a fierce security force response to a series of Rohingya militant attacks on police and army posts in the country’s west on Aug

25. The Islamist group behind the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the Untied States issued a statement urging Muslims around the world to support their fellow Muslims in Myanmar with aid, weapons and "military support". "The savage treatment meted out to our Muslim brothers shall not pass without punishment," al-Qaeda said in a statement, according to the SITE monitoring group.

"The government of Myanmar shall be made to taste what our Muslim brothers have tasted." Myanmar says its security forces are engaged in a legitimate campaign against "terrorists", whom it blames for attacks on the police and army, and on civilians.

The government has warned of bomb attacks in cities, and al-Qaeda’s call to arms is likely to compound those concerns. "We call upon all Mujahid brothers in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines to set out for Burma to help their Muslim brothers, and to make the necessary preparations — training and the like - to resist this oppression," the group said. —

 

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