The following article series follows the Rohingya flight as it has grown since August 2017. According to UN OCHA, As of 4 October 2017, Bangladesh hosts more than 800,000 Rohingya refugees, and this number continues to increase daily. Before this crisis began, the country was already hosting a verified population of well over 200,000 Rohingya from Myanmar—and likely many more.
Desperate Rohingya refugees use home-made rafts to get to Bangladesh – UN
UN News Center, 17 November 2017
Rohingya refugees are resorting to increasingly desperate measures such as makeshift rafts to cross the Naf River to Bangladesh. Photo: UNHCR/Andrew McConnell
Over the past 10 days, dozens of makeshift rafts carrying more than a thousand people have floated into Bangladesh, proof that Rohingya refugees are resorting to increasingly desperate means to flee to Myanmar, the United Nations refugee agency said Friday.
“Unable to pay for the crossing, refugees are building rafts from whatever material they can get their hands on – mostly bamboo poles and empty jerry cans tied together with rope and covered with plastic sheets,” William Spindler, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters at the regular press briefing in Geneva.
“Using paddles made of bamboo and plastic debris some of these rafts made it to Shahporir Dwip in Bangladesh, a journey of about four hours,” he added, pointing out that the Naf river estuary between the two countries is about three kilometres wide at this point.
According to Mr. Spindler, more than 100 Rohingya refugees are known to have drowned in shipwrecks and boat incidents since the start of the crisis on 25 August, and recent arrivals said they had been waiting for more than a month in desperate conditions on Myanmar` shores with food and water running low.
“An estimated 620,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since 25 August,” the UNHCR spokesperson explained. “The Kutupalong Extension site alone, which was set up soon after the influx began, is now highly congested sheltering some 335,000 new arrivals – more than half of the influx so far.”
Citing UN Habitat data that Dhaka`s population density is 44,500 people per square kilometre, UNHCR said 13 out of 20 blocks in the Kutupalong Extension area are more densely populated than parts of the Bangladesh capital city, with an area known as Block CC sheltering more than 95,000 people per square kilometre.
“Despite concerted efforts to deliver more aid and services, the overcrowding and difficult living conditions in the camps and makeshift sites increase health, sanitation and fire risks as well as violence and trafficking,” stressed Mr. Spindler.
Additional land and more space for shelters and infrastructure are needed urgently to provide life-saving services and aid, including water points, latrines and spaces for women and girls.
As high population density also escalates risks, particularly for sexual and gender based violence (SGBV), UNHCR is engaging all segments of the refugee communities to raise awareness.
“Together with our partners, we are working to put in place referral pathways for women, survivors of SGBV, as well as safe spaces for women and girls,” said Mr. Spindler.
Meanwhile, the UN International Organization for (IOM) is using solar energy to power its health posts in Kutupalong and Balukali makeshift settlements – now home to an estimated 440,000 Rohingya refugees.
“As the demand for our healthcare services increases, solar-powered lighting means we can provide round the clock emergency consultations and medicine distributions,” said Mariam Abdelkerim-Spijkerman, the IOM Emergency Health Officer in Cox`s Bazar.
Prior to the latest refugee influx, in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Bangladeshi Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, IOM had been coordinating aid work in the health sector.
As people continue to flood into the settlements, pressure on the health sector has steadily risen.
“The health needs of the refugees are immense, providing 24-hour lighting helps save lives,” explained Ms. Abdelkerim-Spijkerman.
UN: Rohingya Exodus to Bangladesh Exceeds 400,000
Bangladeshi leader seeks global help as Rohingya Muslims continue to flee Myanmar, overwhelming Bangladesh.
More than 400,000 majority-Muslim Rohingya have fled Myanmar into Bangladesh, the United Nations says as Bangladeshi leader heads to the US to seek global help coping with the crisis.
Bangladesh has been overwhelmed by Rohingya since violence erupted in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar`s Rakhine State on August 25.
On Saturday, the UN said that the total number of people to have entered Bangladesh having fled the unrest had now reached 409,000, a leap of 18,000 in a day.
Conditions are worsening 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 waves of refugees.
The UN said two children and a woman were killed in a rampage when a private group handed clothes near a camp on Friday.
Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister of Bangladesh, departed for New York City on Saturday to plead for international help and demand more pressure on Myanmar during talks at the UN General Assembly on Thursday.
She will seek immediate cessation of violence in Rakhine State in Myanmar and ask the UN secretary-general to send a fact-finding mission to Rakhine, Nazrul Islam, a spokesman for the prime minister, told AFP news agency.
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.
Chris Lom, spokesperson for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), told Al Jazeera the aid agencies working in the country were struggling to cope with the demand.
Nobody expected this number of people. Of course, if 100,000 would have come, they could have been accommodated, but by the time they stop, it may be 500,000 and may be more. It`s huge, he said.
Lom said aid agencies were working as fast as they can but had so far been able to assist less than a quarter of the refugees.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said: We will continue international pressure on the Myanmar government to immediately end its ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya.
The foreign ministry on Friday summoned the Myanmar charge d`affaires for the third time in Dhaka to protest at alleged violations of its airspace by Myanmar drones and helicopter.
The ministry warned that the three violations between September 10 and 14 could lead to unwarranted consequences. Myanmar did not immediately comment.
The Bangladesh government earlier protested to the embassy over the planting of landmines near their border, which have killed several Rohingya, as well as over the treatment of the refugees.
Original article with video
Myanmar: At Least 270K Rohingya Flee
8 September 2017
U.N. says 270,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar in past two weeks
GENEVA—An estimated 270,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar in the past two weeks and sought refuge in Bangladesh, where two existing refugee camps are bursting at the seams, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday.
The exodus of the minority Rohingya was triggered by insurgent attacks on 25 August and an army counter-offensive.
Myanmar says its forces are fighting a legitimate campaign against terrorists responsible for a string of attacks on the police and army since last October. Officials blame Rohingya militants for killing non-Muslims and burning their homes.
The two refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in southeast Bangladesh – home to nearly 34,000 Rohingya refugees before this influx – are now bursting at the seams. The population has more than doubled in two weeks, totalling more than 70,000. There is an urgent need for more land and shelters, UNHCR said in a briefing note for reporters in Geneva.
The vast majority are women, including mothers with newborn babies, families with children. They arrive in poor condition, exhausted, hungry and desperate for shelter.
The United Nations was expecting a total refugee influx of 300,000, up from a previous estimate of 120,000, an official told Reuters on Wednesday.
The International Organization for Migration said the estimate of new arrivals had increased considerably partly because of an assessment on 6 September, when humanitarian workers visited more locations, and found 75,000 newly arrived people in nine locations.
There were 130,000 people in the registered refugee camps and three makeshift settlements, 90,000 in host communities, and nearly 50,000 in new spontaneous settlements which are expanding quickly with people still searching for space to make temporary shelters, an IOM statement said.
While most of Rohingya refugees arrive on foot, mostly walking through the jungle and mountains for several days, thousands are braving long and risky voyages across the rough seas of the Bay of Bengal, UNHCR said.
At least 300 boats arrived in Cox`s Bazar on Wednesday, IOM said.
(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Alison Williams)
Photo on front page: Houses were on fire in Gawdu Zara village, northern Rakhine state, Myanmar, on Thursday, 7 September. Journalists saw new fires burning in the Myanmar village that had been abandoned by Rohingya Muslims, and where pages from Islamic texts were seen ripped and left on the ground. Source: Associated Press. Photo on this page: Rohingya family wades through murky waters to escape violence in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. Source: The Star.
Related in HLRN News:
Rohingya `Clearance,` Despite UN Demands
UN Reports on Rakhine Living Conditions
UN Probes Crimes against Rohingya in Myanmar
Myanmar: AI Reports “crimes against humanity”
Rohingya: First Burning Homes, Now Border Patrols
Myanmar: 90,000 Displaced in Sectarian Clashes
Bangladesh: Burma-Refugees Facing Deportation
Bangladesh Returns Thousands of Burmese Refugees
Violation Database entries:
1,000 Rohingyas Refugees Evicted
Rohingya Refugee Settlement Destroyed