MORE THAN half a million Rohingya Muslims have now crossed the border from Rakhine State in Burma (Myanmar) in just over a month, fleeing what rights groups say are crimes against humanity.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) confirmed on Thursday that 501,800 new arrivals have been reported in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh since Aug 25.
Violence has ravaged the Rakhine after the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked police and military outposts in late August, sparking a crackdown and “clearing operations” by the Tatmadaw army which now stands accused of arson, extrajudicial killings and rape.
The speed and scale of the exodus of Rohingya into Bangladesh has created a “critical humanitarian emergency,” said the IOM on Thursday. Road access continues to be a constraint upon the delivery of humanitarian aid.
“Basic services that were available prior to the influx are under severe strain due to the massive increase in people in the area,” it added.
Burma’s government, led by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, has been widely criticised for failing to prevent violence and a massive humanitarian crisis.
French President Emmanuel Macron has deemed the situation “genocide” while the UN Human Rights Chief said it appeared to be “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” – claims the Burmese ambassador to the UN Hau Do Suan this week rejected at the General Assembly in New York.
International aid organisations earlier this week called upon Burma to allow them to access Rakhine State to allow them to assist affected populations, where currently “almost no” humanitarian aid was being provided at present.
A statement signed by 18 non-governmental organisations said that 120,000 internally displaced persons residing in camps in central Rakhine since violence in 2012 are heavily reliant upon assistance which has been “severely curtailed” since renewed clashes broke out a month ago.
The Burmese government has repeatedly accused NGOs of working with terrorists.