Shah Porir Dwip — Tens of thousands more people have crossed by boat and on foot into Bangladesh in the last 24 hours as they flee violence in western Myanmar, the UNHCR said yesterday.
Both Myanmar’s security officials and insurgents from the Rohingya ethnic minority are accusing each other of burning down villages and committing atrocities in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. The military has said nearly 400 people, most of them insurgents, have died in armed clashes.
The violence has triggered a flood of refugees crossing mostly on foot into Bangladesh, though some were fleeing in wooden boats. “Roughly 60 000 have arrived in Bangladesh since the violence erupted on August 25,” said UN Refugee Agency spokesperson Vivian Tan. That is about 20 000 more than the number local officials had estimated on Friday.
Refugees who had arrived at the Bangladeshi fishing village of Shah Porir Dwip described bombs exploding and Rohingyas being burned alive.
“We fled to Bangladesh to save our lives,” said a man who only gave his first name, Karim. “The military and extremist Rakhine are burning us, burning us, killing us, setting our village on fire.”
He said he paid 12 000 Bangladeshi taka, or about $150, for his family to be smuggled on a wooden boat to Bangladesh after soldiers killed 110 Rohingya in their village of Kunnapara, near the coastal town of Maungdaw.
Satellite imagery analysed by Human Rights Watch shows hundreds of buildings had been destroyed in at least 17 sites across Rakhine state since August 25, including some 700 structures that appeared to have been burned down in just the village of Chein Khar Li, the international rights watchdog said in a statement yesterday. — AP