Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh exceeds 400000

MYANMAR-ROHINGYA  BANGLADESH

When we met last week, there were 125,000 Rohingya refugees who had fled into Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is struggling to provide relief for the huge influx of exhausted and hungry refugees - some 60 percent of whom are children - while almost 30,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists as well as Hindus have also been displaced inside Myanmar.

While Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is the de facto leader of the country, its the generals who continue to control national security policy. The refugees speak of indiscriminate clearance operations, huts set on fire and family members being taken away and never heard from again.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council have urged Myanmar to end the violence, which he said was best described as ethnic cleansing.

A trawler carrying Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar capsized Tuesday in the Naf River on the border with Bangladesh, leaving two children dead.

Prime Minister Hasina also said she will raise the Rohingya issue at the UN General Assembly now under way in NY.

The British Ambassador to the U.N. Matthew Rycroft said it was the first statement from the Security Council on Myanmar in nine years.

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There have been reports of violent attacks on Rohingya by the Myanmar military, as well as rape, murder and arson, according to Human Rights Watch and other groups. A top United Nations official had earlier said a previous United Nations target of US$77 million (S$104 million) would be inadequate to deal with the crisis.

A crackdown by Myanmar's army, launched in response to attacks by Rohingya militants on August 25, has pushed vast numbers of the stateless Muslim minority across the border. "Women and children are arriving hungry and malnourished".

Dhaka earlier said Bangladesh required India's assistance in its efforts to handle the situation and send the refugees back home.

Htay later announced Suu Kyi would give a "state of the union" speech next Tuesday in which she would address the Rohingya crisis fully.

The Myanmar government with Aung San Suu Kyi as its de facto leader formed the commission after it drew condemnation for an army operation against Rohingyas following attacks on security forces in October past year.

When asked at a press conference in NY whether he would describe the violence against Rohingya Muslims as "ethnic cleansing", he replied: "When one-third of the Rohingya population has got to flee the country, can you find a better word to describe it?"

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