Up to 15,000 refugees stranded near Bangladesh-Myanmar border
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
The UN Refugee Agency is concerned about the humanitarian condition of thousands of new arrivals who are stranded near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
Since Sunday night, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Rohingya refugees have entered Bangladesh through the Anjuman Para border crossing point in Ukhia district in the country’s south-east.
Many say they had initially chosen to remain in their homes in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state despite repeated threats to leave or be killed. They finally fled when their villages were set on fire.
The refugees UNHCR staff spoke to yesterday described walking for around a week to reach the Bangladesh border. Some crossed into the country on Sunday night, others throughout Monday in the heat and rain.
Drone footage shows new Rohingya refugees arriving in Bangladesh (Roger Arnold, camera / Boris Weber, editor)
As of this morning they are still squatting in the paddy fields of Anjuman Para village in Bangladesh. They are waiting for permission to move away from the border, where the sound of gunfire continues to be heard every night from the Myanmar side.
UNHCR and our partners, the Bangladesh Red Crescent and Action against Hunger, are delivering food and water to the stranded refugees, among them children, women and the elderly who are dehydrated and hungry from the long journey. Our staff are working with Médecins Sans Frontières to identifying the sick for treatment.
UNHCR is advocating with the Bangladesh authorities to urgently admit these refugees fleeing violence and increasingly-difficult conditions back home. Every minute counts given the fragile condition they’re arriving in.
As part of our response to the new influx, UNHCR is working with the government and other partners to complete a new transit centre in Kutupalong with a capacity of 1,250. Preparations are also underway to host new arrivals in the schools in Kutupalong camp. At the same time, we are collaborating to accelerate the opening up of the new Kutupalong extension site to avoid adding more pressure to already highly congested areas of the camp.
An estimated 582,000 refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since violence erupted in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state on 25 August.
Drone footage of Monday’s arrivals is available on Refugees Media: http://media.unhcr.org/Share/p6r5ifd5ka47p24073a4u8xi6abc1c82 (login required)
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