Hasina to seek aid for refugee crisis

Bangladeshi PM heads for UN General Assembly; Rohingya exodus from Myanmar tops 4,00,000

Updated - September 19, 2017 11:03 am IST

Published - September 16, 2017 08:09 pm IST - Dhaka

Fight for survival: A man uses a cane to control refugees during distribution of relief supplies in Cox's Bazar.

Fight for survival: A man uses a cane to control refugees during distribution of relief supplies in Cox's Bazar.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina headed for the UN General Assembly on Saturday to plead for global help to cope with the Rohingya crisis, as the refugee deluge escaping a crackdown in Myanmar topped 4,00,000.

The Prime Minister left a day after her government summoned the Myanmar envoy for the third time to protest over its neighbour's actions. Ms. Hasina is to demand more pressure on Myanmar during talks in New York.

Bangladesh has been overwhelmed by Rohingya Muslims since violence erupted in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar’s Rakhine state on August 25.

The UN said on Saturday that the total number of people to have entered Bangladesh having fled the unrest had 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 3,00,000 people from earlier waves of refugees.

Two children killed

The UN said two children and a woman were killed in a “rampage” when a private group handed clothes near a camp on Friday.

Prime Minister Hasina is to speak at the UN 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 Islama, a spokesman for the Prime Pinister, said.

Global pressure

“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.

Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali said: “We will continue international pressure on the Myanmar government to immediately end its ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya.”

The deaths of the three refugees backed warnings by UN agencies and other relief groups that the crisis could get out of control.

The World Health Organisation and UN children’s agency on Saturday launched vaccination campaigns against measles, rubella and polio. They estimate that 60% of the new arrivals are children.

Most Rohingya, who spent more than a week trekking cross-country from Rakhine to reach the Bangladesh border, have found existing camps overflowing and have instead settled on muddy roadsides.

Many families do not have a shelter over their heads and refugees have been fighting for food and water deliveries.

The government has put the army in charge of ferrying foreign relief aid from airports to Cox's Bazar. It also plans to build 14,000 shelters.

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