‘Thousands flee Rakhine as Myanmar blocks all UN aid to Rohingya Muslims’

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Dhaka: At least 87,000 Rohingya Muslim migrants arrived in Bangladesh last week from Myanmar, a UN official said here on Monday.

The official told Efe news that 81,000 migrants were currently lodged in makeshift shelters and the remaining 6,000 settled with relatives in the permanent refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar district.

Thousands continued to arrive at the border, some of them with gunshot wounds, fleeing sectarian violence in Myanmar’s northwestern Rakhine state as Myanmar has blocked all UN aid agencies from delivering vital supplies of food, water and medicine to thousands of civilians – who are mostly Muslims – at the centre of a violent military campaign in Rakhine state.

The world body halted distributions in the state after militants attacked government forces on August 25 and the Army responded with a counter-offensive that has killed over 400 people including militants and civilians, the Guardian report said.

The Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar told the daily that deliveries were suspended “because the security situation and government field-visit restrictions rendered us unable to distribute assistance”, suggesting authorities were not providing permission to operate.

“The UN is in close contact with authorities to ensure that humanitarian operations can resume as soon as possible,” it said, adding, “Aid was being delivered to other parts of Rakhine state.”

On August 25, the Myanmar Army began an operation following armed assaults on several police posts by hundreds of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) rebels.

Hundreds of people, mostly Rohingyas, were killed during the government response.

International organisations have reported claims of human rights violations and summary executions allegedly carried out by the Myanmar army.

On Friday, the UN expressed deep concern at reports about violence committed by the security forces in Myanmar and made an appeal for calm to prevent a humanitarian crisis.

An estimated 1.1 million Rohingya live in Myanmar, which refuses to grant them citizenship and has been internationally condemned for its treatment of the ethnic minority.

Although the Rohingya have suffered oppression for decades, the recent bout of violence is seen as a dangerous escalation because it was sparked by a new Rohingya militant group called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, the Guardian report added.

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