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Updated On: Sunday, 22 September 2019

UN: 120,000 Rohingya Flee Myanmar

Content by: Voice of America

The United Nations estimates that over 120,000 minority Rohingya refugees have crossed the border from Myanmar's northern Rakhine state into Bangladesh in the last two weeks.

"They are scattered in local villages, refugee camps in makeshift sites in southeastern Bangladesh," Vivian Tan, UNHCR Asia regional press officer, told VOA Burmese. "Many of them are arriving in very bad condition. They say that they have walked for days. They have not eaten food since they left [their] homes. Many of them say they have been surviving on water they can find. They are in very bad physical condition."

Tan said that two official refugee camps in Bangladesh are stretched beyond their limits, with arrivals increasing every day.

"Basically, there is no physical space left to accept more [refugees]," Tan said.

Various leaders in the international community have condemned the violence, calling on Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung Sun Suu Kyi, to condemn the trouble and act to address it.

The European Union Tuesday issued a statement calling on both sides to de-escalate tensions.

"Many Rohingya civilians are suffering greatly and are now fleeing the violence across the border into Bangladesh. They must not be turned back or deported. We greatly appreciate the hospitality extended by the Government and people of Bangladesh for many decades," said Christos Stylianides, the EU commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management.

In a statement posted on her official Twitter account, activist Malala Yousafzai called on her fellow Nobel Laureate, Aung Sun Suu Kyi, to condemn the violence against the Muslim Rohingya minority.

"If their home is not Myanmar, where they have lived for generations, then where is it?" she asked.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began a two-day state visit to Myanmar Tuesday on his way back from China, where he attended a summit with leaders of emerging economies. Modi, who is also trying to expand commercial and strategic ties in Myanmar, is expected to take up the issue of the Rohingya with Aung San Suu Kyi. India has said it wants to deport about 40,000 Rohingya who left Myanmar over the years.

Increased violence began a week ago, when a group called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army launched a series of attacks on police posts in Rakhine, which is home to most of the Rohingya minority group. The police responded with attacks on villages, to hunt down the insurgents.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar considers the Rohingya to be migrants from Bangladesh, and not one of Myanmar's many ethnic minority groups. Rohingya are denied citizenship, even if they can show that their families have been in the country for generations.

Sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims has flared periodically for more than a decade. Until last month’s attacks, the worst violence was last October, when insurgents attacked several police posts, sparking a military crackdown that sent thousands fleeing to Bangladesh.

The Myanmar government has denied allegations of abuse against the Rohingya and limited access to Rakhine to journalists and other outsiders; but the country’s ambassador to the United Nations says the government plans to implement the recommendations from a U.N. commission to improve conditions and end the violence.

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