The number of Rohingya who have fled fighting in western Myanmar has climbed sharply to 270,000, placing a huge strain on camps in Bangladesh where they are seeking shelter, the United Nations refugee agency said.
Two refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in southeast Bangladesh that were already home to nearly 34,000 Rohingya refugees “are now bursting at the seams,” Duniya Aslam Khan, a spokeswoman for the refugee agency, said in a statement. “The limited shelter capacity is already exhausted,” she said. “Refugees are now squatting in makeshift shelters that have mushroomed along the road.”
The refugees in Bangladesh are mostly women and children who have arrived by foot, the United Nations refugee agency said. The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic group that has faced severe repression in Myanmar, where a Buddhist majority has long ruled. About one million of them live in Rakhine State in the west of the country.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate for her long struggle against military rule, has come under increasing international criticism for the plight of the Rohingya. Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, also a Nobel laureate, wrote in a letter Thursday that it was “incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country” that “is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity and worth of all its people.”
Previously, Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, had also confronted Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi on Twitter over the violence against the Rohingya.
[New York Times]