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Bangladesh Prime Minister Wants Rohingya Safe Zones in Myanmar

Hunger is a constant and most children have to beg at some point if they are to eat. And to do that they have to leave their tents
Children make up about 60% of more than 430,000 people who have poured in to Bangladesh.Children make up about 60% of more than 430,000 people who have poured in to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s prime minister has accused Myanmar of ethnic cleansing of its Rohingya people and urged the country to allow the return of “hungry, distressed and hopeless” refugees.

Sheikh Hasina told the UN General Assembly on Thursday that Bangladesh was sheltering more than 800,000 Rohingya, of whom 430,000 had arrived in the past three weeks, news outlets reported.

She called for safe zones to be created under UN supervision in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

“We are horrified to see that the Myanmar authorities are laying landmines along their stretch of the border to prevent the Rohingya from returning to Myanmar,” Hasina said.

“These people must be able to return to their homeland in safety, security and dignity.”

More than half of the displaced Rohingya are living in makeshift camps with little access to shelter, food, clean water and sanitation, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

On Tuesday, Marzuki Darusman, the head of the UN Fact-Finding Mission, said they were seeking access to Myanmar to investigate allegations of mass killings and torture.

Children make up about 60% of more than 430,000 people who have poured in to Bangladesh. They have seen family members killed and homes set on fire.

They have known fear and terror. And they have endured dangerous journeys through forests and on rickety boats.

Sometimes they have done it alone. UNICEF has so far counted more than 1,400 children who have crossed the border with neither parent.

Now they have traded the fear and terror of Rakhine for the chaos of refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Tens of thousands of strangers are living in the refugee camps, packed in normally uninhabitable places.

Child refugees face many dangers, including separation from their families, trafficking, servitude, and abuse.

Hunger is a constant and most children have to beg at some point if they are to eat. And to do that they have to leave their tents.

Their parents, who are simply too overwhelmed and impoverished themselves, cannot chaperone them.

UNICEF has set up what the agency calls “Child Friendly Spaces” within the camps.

  Aid Shipment Blocked

Buddhist protesters in Myanmar threw petrol bombs to try to block an aid shipment to Muslims in Rakhine State, where the United Nations has accused the country’s military of ethnic cleansing

The incident late on Wednesday, ended when police fired in the air to disperse the protesters, reflected rising communal animosity and came during an official visit by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Murphy.

Murphy said later, after talks with government leaders, that Washington was alarmed by reports of rights abuses and called on authorities to stop the violence, which raised concern about Myanmar’s transition from military rule to democracy.

Myanmar’s army chief on Thursday called for internally displaced non-Muslims to go home.

In a speech on his plans for Rakhine State while on his first visit there since strife erupted, he made no mention of the estimated 430,000 Rohingya Muslims who have crossed the border into Bangladesh.

  ‘Health Disaster’

Bangladesh’s refugee camps are on the brink of a “public health disaster,” Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has warned, saying filthy water and faces flow through shanties bursting with Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in Myanmar.

MSF on Thursday warned that a “massive scale-up of humanitarian aid is needed in Bangladesh to avoid a public health disaster”.

“We are receiving adults every day on the cusp of dying from dehydration,” said Kate White, the group’s emergency medical coordinator.

“That’s very rare among adults, and signals that a public health emergency could be just around the corner.”

There are no official roads into the slum-like settlements that have sprung up outside official camps, complicating aid delivery in the hilly, mud-slicked terrain.

“There is a complete absence of latrines,” added White. “When you walk through the settlement, you have to wade through streams of dirty water and human feces.”

With chaotic and patchy food distribution, many Rohingya are only eating one meal of plain rice per day, she added.

 

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