COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh: A total of 87,000 mostly Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since violence erupted in neighboring Myanmar on August 25, the United Nations said Monday, amid growing international criticism of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Thousands of the stateless Muslim minority have fled the mainly Buddhist nation and poured over the border since the latest round of fighting broke out, piling pressure on the already overcrowded camps in Bangladesh.
Around 20,000 more were massed on the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine and waiting to enter, the UN said in a report.
Dhaka had stepped up border controls after the latest round of violence began 10 days ago, but the UN said recent arrivals reported there had been no attempt to stop them from crossing.
One Bangladeshi border guard told Agence France-Presse the sheer numbers of people desperate to enter the country had made it impossible to stop the influx.
“It is bigger than the last time,” said the guard, who asked not to be named, referring to the influx of refugees that followed an outbreak of violence last October.
“If it continues then we will face serious problems. But it’s impossible to stop the flow, these people are everywhere,” he added.
The UN said most of the new arrivals were in the squalid camps already housing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees around the coastal town of Cox’s Bazar.
But many lacked shelter from the heavy monsoon rains and an Agence France-Presse reporter on the ground said hundreds of new makeshift shelters had sprung up on the outskirts of the sprawling camps in recent days.
“It has been raining frequently since last week. We have to keep our children safe from being sick,” said Amena Begum, a newly arrived mother of five.
Refugees in Cox’s Bazar have alleged their families were massacred and villages torched by security forces and Buddhist mobs.