Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims flee to Bangladesh as Rakhine unrest rages

Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims flee to Bangladesh as Rakhine unrest rages

Violence erupted in Myanmar's Rakhine State on August 25 when the country's security forces launched an operation against Rohingya Muslim community.

The violence marks a dramatic escalation of a conflict that has simmered since October, when a similar but much smaller series of Rohingya attacks on security posts prompted a brutal military response dogged by allegations of rights abuses.

The violence comes amid reports of Buddhist vigilantes burning Rohingya villages in Myanmar, Reuters said.

At least 110 people, including 11 state officials, have been confirmed dead since then and thousands of Rohingya have poured across the border to Bangladesh despite Dhaka's attempts to stop them. Also Wednesday, Bangladesh's border guards turned back 171 Rohingya after detaining them at different border points over the last two days, said Col. S.M. Ariful Islam, a director of the Border Guard Bangladesh.

They reside mostly in the western region of Rakhine state in Myanmar. "We don't know how many were on the boat", he said. He called on the global community and rights groups to apply pressure on the Myanmar government.

One coast guard official who asked not to be named said the migrants were travelling on "rickety inland fishing boats" unsuitable for the choppy seas around Bangladesh.

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Thousands of Rohingyas refugees turned up here at the city centre to protest against atrocities on Rohingyas in Rakhine state in Myanmar.

Bangladesh is already home to an estimated 400,000 Rohingya, a mainly Muslim stateless minority.

She went on to remind the authorities of their human rights obligations to give equal protection to people from all communities, whether from attacks by extremists or excessive action from the security forces. The report states that "an estimated 22,000 people remain internally displaced as at 20 January, which means that almost 90,000 people are estimated to have suffered internal or cross-border displacement since 9 October 2016".

The Naf river that divides the two countries is narrow in places, but the Rohingya are increasingly crossing where the river is wider, or even venturing out to sea, after Bangladeshi authorities toughened their border patrols.

Rohingyas face discrimination in Myanmar as the government does not consider them citizens. There have been numerous eyewitness accounts of summary executions, rapes, and arson attacks by security forces against the Muslims since the crackdown began.

Aid workers say contingency stocks of materials are low and their biggest problem is extreme overcrowding in makeshift settlements.

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