MYANMAR – Tens of thousands of refugees are trapped on the border into Bangladesh without basic food and medicine amid operations by the Myanmar military, which have already killed hundreds.
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Satellite photos released by Human Rights Watch Saturday showed what they are desperate to escape — entire villages torched to the ground in clashes between Myanmar’s armed forces and local militants.
More than 73,000 Rohingyas have now fled across the border since August 25, the United Nations said Sunday.
But in northern Rakhine State there are reports of at least another 30,000 Rohingyas trapped in hilly terrain without basic supplies of food, water or medicine, according to activists.
The Rohingya, a Muslim minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, are considered some of the most persecuted people in the world. Myanmar, also known as Burma, considers them Bangladeshi and Bangladesh says they’re Burmese.
It is the second time in less than a year that a military crackdown has led to a mass exodus.
In the deadliest violence for decades in the area, the military is accused of atrocities against the persecuted Muslim Rohingya minority, tens of thousands of whom have fled burning villages to neighbouring Bangladesh, many with bullet wounds.
Staff from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), have not conducted any field work in northern Rakhine for more than a week, a dangerous halt in life-saving relief that will affect poor Buddhist residents as well as Rohingya.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it also had to suspend distributions to other parts of the state, leaving a quarter of a million people without regular food access.
Sixteen major non-government aid organisations – including Oxfam and Save the Children – have also complained that the government has restricted access to the conflict area.
Village burnt down:
Human Rights Watch renewed its calls for the Myanmar government to allow independent observers into Rakhine State, after releasing troubling satellite photos from inside the region.
“This new satellite imagery shows the total destruction of a Muslim village, and prompts serious concerns that the level of destruction in northern Rakhine state may be far worse than originally thought,” Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said in a statement.
The images were taken on August 31 of Chein Khar Li village in northern Rakhine State. According to Human Rights Watch, they show about 700 buildings have been burned down, making up about 99% of the village.
Million protesters in Chechnya decry persecution of Myanmar Rohingya Muslims:
Police say a million people have turned out for a protest rally in Grozny, the capital of Russia’s Chechen republic, to protest the violence in Myanmar, where government security troops are conducting a large-scale crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya minority.
— Bellа (@Kharachoeva) September 4, 2017
The rally supporting the Rohingya was held on Monday in the predominantly Muslim part of Russia. Footage of the event showed tens of thousands of protesters flooding a square in front of the city’s main mosque, as Chechen officials and community leaders spoke to the crowd from a stage.