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UNHCR readies aid amid fresh refugee surge in Bangladesh

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UNHCR readies aid amid fresh refugee surge in Bangladesh

9 October 2017
Bangladesh. Smoke still rising from Myanmar villages
Smoke rises on the Myanmar side of the border, as seen from Palangkhali in Bangladesh on 5 October 2017 – four days before a fresh influx of refugees arrived via the nearby Anjumanpara border crossing.

The UN Refugee Agency is rushing relief supplies to the border areas amid reports that an estimated 10,000 Rohingya refugees crossed into Bangladesh on Monday.

This sudden influx follows the recent slowing arrivals. However, in recent days local people in the Anjumanpara area of south-eastern Bangladesh have reported hearing gunfire in Myanmar.

According to Bangladesh border guards, the influx through the Anjumanpara border crossing point started on Sunday night and had passed the 6,000 mark by Monday afternoon. Thousands more are said to be on their way.

Among those who made it across to Bangladesh, many said they fled from Buthidaung in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state, walking for 12 to 14 days to reach the border.

Many of the new arrivals were taken by the authorities to the Kutupalong and Balukhali areas about 20 km away, where refugee camps and settlements already exist.

Several thousand new arrivals were also reported at other entry points south of Anjumanpara, including Shahporidwip.

UNHCR has loaded trucks with plastic sheets for immediate delivery once our teams verify their locations. The UN Refugee Agency has also asked partner agencies to pre-position food, water and other life-saving supplies for the new refugees, many of whom are exhausted from the long and treacherous journey.

In Shahporidwip near the southern tip of Bangladesh, UNHCR is already supporting the authorities at a transit centre for boat arrivals.

The series of drownings reported since late September underscore the importance of rescue operations for those fleeing by boat from Myanmar. In the most recent incident over the weekend more than a dozen refugees drowned, including children and women.

Since the violence started in northern Rakhine state in late August, nearly 520,000 refugees have sought safety in Bangladesh, joining an estimated 300,000 Rohingya refugees who have been hosted here since the 1990s.

The UN Refugee Agency is coordinating its response with the Bangladesh government and partners to enhance preparedness for potential influxes and pre-position relief supplies close to the reception areas.

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