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Myanmar violence: Bangladesh agrees to free land to shelter Rohingya refugees

Myanmar

Bangladesh: Bangladesh has agreed to free land for a new camp to shelter some of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled recent violence in Myanmar, an official said on Monday.

The new camp will help relieve some pressure on existing settlements in the Bangladeshi border district of Cox’s Bazar, where nearly 300,000 Rohingya have arrived since 25 August.

“The two refugees camps we are in are beyond overcrowded,” said UN refugee agency spokeswoman Vivian Tan. Other new arrivals were being sheltered in schools, or were huddling in makeshift settlements with no toilets along roadsides and in open fields. Basic resources were scarce, including food, clean water and medical aid.

“Tomorrow (Tuesday) we are expecting an airlift of relief supplies for 20,000 people,” Tan said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had offered 2 acres near the existing camp of Kutupalong “to build temporary shelters for the Rohingya newcomers, said Mohammed Shahriar Alam, a junior minister for foreign affairs.

He also said the government would begin fingerprinting and registering the new arrivals on Monday. Hasina is scheduled to visit Rohingya refugees on Tuesday.

The government hospital in Cox’s Bazar has been overwhelmed by Rohingya patients, with 80 arriving in the last two weeks suffering gunshot wounds as well as bad infections. At least three have been wounded in land mine blasts, and dozens have drowned when boats capsized during sea crossings.

The violence and exodus began on 25 August when Rohingya insurgents attacked Myanmar police and paramilitary posts in what they said was an effort to protect their ethnic minority from persecution by security forces in the majority Buddhist country.

In response, the military unleashed what it called “clearance operations” to root out the insurgents. Accounts from refugees show the Myanmar military is also targeting civilians with shootings and wholesale burning of Rohingya villages in an apparent attempt to purge Rakhine state of Muslims.

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