With thousands of Rohingya refugees streaming daily across the swampy border into Bangladesh, one hospital was struggling Monday to treat dozens of men who had arrived with broken bones, bullet wounds and horrific stories of death.
Already, some 87,000 Rohingya Muslims have entered Bangladesh, fleeing violence in western Myanmar that erupted Aug. 25. The refugees have filled three older refugee camps set up in the 1990s.
“The existing refugees have taken in the new arrivals into their homes,” said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Vivian Tan. Still, thousands more were sheltering in local villages, or in open fields — wherever they could find space.
“What we desperately need is for land to be made available to get more emergency shelters up,” as well as help with other aid supplies, Tan said.
“These people have been walking for days. They likely have not eaten since they left their homes,” Tan said. Many needed medical attention for respiratory diseases, infections and malnutrition. “They are exhausted, they are traumatized … There are babies, some newborns, who’ve been exposed to the elements.”
On Monday, at the Cox’s Bazar Sadar Hospital about two hours from the border, doctors were treating 31 men who arrived “distressed and afraid” with broken bones and bullet wounds, mostly to their limbs, according to the resident medical officer Dr. Shaheen Abdur Rahman Choudhury.
They all told similar stories of Myanmar soldiers opening fire randomly on their villages in western Myanmar on Aug. 26-27 and setting buildings aflame, Choudhury said.
The hospital, already “hugely overburdened,” was expecting to receive many more wounded refugees, he said. “What we are seeing is the tip of the iceberg.”
Dozens died trying to cross into Bangladesh
The violence and the exodus began on Aug. 25, 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. The violence led the UN World Food Program last week to halt aid deliveries to some 250,000 people in Rakhine state.
The latest violence is…