Aid agencies were struggling to cope with a nonstop flood of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh, where some 146,000 have arrived hungry and terrified after fleeing renewed violence in Myanmar — a crisis the country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, dismissed as a misinformation campaign.
With the influx pushing existing Rohingya refugee camps to the brink, Bangladesh pledged to build at least one more. The International Organization for Migration has pleaded for $18 million in foreign aid to help feed and shelter tens of thousands now packed into makeshift settlements or stranded in a no-man’s land between the two countries’ borders.
U.N. agencies said they were distributing food to new arrivals, about 80 per cent of whom were women and children, joining about 100,000 who had already been sheltering in Bangladesh after fleeing earlier convulsions of violence in majority-Buddhist Myanmar.
“We’ve not had something on this scale here in many years,” said Pavlo Kolovos, the Bangladesh mission leader for Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF, in a statement.
“Our teams are seeing streams of people arriving destitute and extremely traumatized,” including many in need of urgent medical care for violence-related injuries, severe infections or childbirth complications.
With so many Rohingya fleeing, it’s unclear how many remain in Myanmar amid reports of soldiers burning villages and killing civilians. Before the recent violence, aid experts had estimated about 1 million Rohingya were living in northern Rakhine state, but aid agencies have been unable to access the area since.
“We are unable to reach the 28,000 children to whom we were previously providing psychosocial care or the more than 4,000 children who were treated for malnutrition in Buthidaung and Maungdaw” in Rakhine, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said.
“Our clean water and sanitation work has been suspended, as have school repairs that were under way.”
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Turkey said that Myanmar agreed to allow its aid officials to enter Rakhine state with a ton of food and goods for Rohingya, and that its foreign minister would visit a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar on Thursday.
The violence has driven some…