DHAKA: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina headed for the UN General Assembly on Saturday to plead for global help coping with the Rohingya crisis as conditions worsen for about 400,000 refugees who have fled a crackdown in Myanmar.
Many families do not have a shelter over their heads and refugees have been fighting for food and water deliveries.
The government has put the army in charge of ferrying foreign relief aid from airports to Cox’s Bazar. It also plans to build 14,000 shelters, which it hopes will be enough for 400,000 people. Each shelter can house six refugee families.
The prime minister left a day after her government summoned the Myanmar ambassador for the third time to protest over its neighbor’s actions. Her office said Hasina would demand more pressure on Myanmar during talks in New York.
Bangladesh has been overwhelmed by Rohingya Muslims since violence erupted in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar’s Rakhine state on August 25.
Conditions are worsening by the day in the border town of Cox’s Bazar where the influx has added to pressures on Rohingya camps already overwhelmed with 300,000 people from earlier refugee waves.
“Sheikh Hasina will raise the Rohingya issue during her speech at the UN General Assembly. She will seek immediate cessation of violence in Rakhine state in Myanmar and ask the UN secretary general to send a fact-finding missing to Rakhine,” a spokesman for the prime minister, Nazrul Islam, told Agence France-Presse.
“She will also call the international community and the UN to put pressure on Myanmar for the repatriation of all the Rohingya refugees to their homeland in Myanmar,” he said.
Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali earlier told reporters that his country faces “an unprecedented crisis” due to the influx over the past three weeks.
“We will continue international pressure on the Myanmar government to immediately end its ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya,” he added.
Amid mounting tensions between the two, the foreign ministry on Friday summoned the Myanmar charge d’affaires in Dhaka to protest alleged violations of its airspace by Myanmar drones and helicopter.
The ministry warned that the three encroachments between September 10 and 14 could lead to “unwarranted consequences.”
The Bangladesh government has also protested to the embassy over the planting of landmines near their border, which has killed several Rohingya, and the treatment of the refugees.