Rohingya refugees face ‘humanitarian crisis within the crisis’
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Rohingya refugees face ‘humanitarian crisis within the crisis’

MORE than 100,000 Rohingya refugees living in the makeshift camps of Bangladesh face an impending hazard come March.

The monsoon season is expected to hit next month, a situation United Nations Security Council diplomats warn could flood camps and cause diseases to spread, The New York Times reported.

Rohingya refugees, now living in squalid conditions there, face “a humanitarian crisis within the crisis”.

“Their lives are greatly at risk,” United Nations high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi said.

Grandi said they are now in a “race against time” to relocate tens of thousands of particularly vulnerable Rohingyas living in areas prone to flooding and landslides.


Rohingya refugees walk along the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Source: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

Carl Skau, Sweden’s representative to the Council, said the camps are in dire state and warned of the impending “crisis within the crisis”.

In January, aid groups released data showing one-third of the land in the cramped Kutupalong-Balukhali mega-camp could be submerged by floods.

More than 86,000 people live in high-danger flood areas. More than 23,000 more live along steep, unstable hillsides at risk of crumbling with heavy and continuous rainfall.

Bangladesh has remarkably absorbed nearly one million Rohingya refugees since Burma’s violent campaign of ethnic cleansing, the Washington Post reported. Most move to the Kutupalong refugee settlement near the port city Cox’s Bazaar, the world’s largest and most densely populated refugee settlement.

The Rohingyas are a long-persecuted Muslim minority in Burma, denied citizenship and access to rights by the Burmese government.

Last August, an attack by Rohingya insurgents in Rakhine State was met with a brutal crackdown by Burmese security forces.

SEE ALSO: Rohingya crisis a ‘textbook example’ of ethnic cleansing

Survivors recall unspeakable terror inflicted on their community, including opening fire on civilians, rape and sexual assault against its women and destruction of villages.

Doctors Without Borders estimate nearly 7,000 Rohingyas, including 730 children under age of 5, were killed in what has been dubbed a textbook case of “ethnic cleansing” by a top United Nations human rights official. The Burmese government denies these allegations.

Masud Bin Momen, Bangladesh’s ambassador to the United Nations said his country is still receiving Rohingya refugees this month, as many as 1,500. They report continued violence back home.

Grandi said “conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive” for the 668,000 Rohingya to return home, according to Al Jazeera.


A Myanmar policeman stands outside of a camp set up by Myanmar’s Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Minister outside Maungdaw in the state of Rakhine, Myanmar Jan 24, 2018. Source: Reuters/Stringer

“The causes of their flight have not been addressed, and we have yet to see substantive progress on addressing the exclusion and denial of rights that has deepened over the last decades, rooted in their lack of citizenship,” he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s government continues to curtail humanitarian access to the affected areas at Rakhine state, where hundreds of villages have been burned down by Burma’s military.

“UNHCR presence and access throughout the state are essential to monitor protection conditions, provide independent information to refugees, and accompany returns as and when they take place,” Grandi said.

SEE ALSO: As Tillerson visits Burma, Holocaust Museum points to ‘mounting evidence of genocide’

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, called on the Council to hold Burma’s military responsible for their actions.

She criticised Burma’s leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi for her failure to stop the violence against the Rohingyas.

“This council must hold the military responsible for its actions and pressure Aung San Suu Kyi to acknowledge the horrific acts taking place in her country,” Haley said.

“No more excuses.”