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Thousands of Rohingya refugees stranded near Bangladesh-Myanmar border

19 October 2017

A new wave of up to 15 thousand Rohingya refugees have crossed the border from their homes in Myanmar to seek refuge in the makeshift camps inside Bangladesh.

Amnesty International has accused Myanmar's security forces of killing hundreds of men, women and children during a systematic campaign to expel the Rohingya.

Many of the Rohingyas who arrived since Sunday told the UNHCR they were forced to leave when their villages were set on fire.

"We had been nearly starving, along with our kids, for a long time", refugee Md Islam, 45, a resident of a village in Buthidaung township told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

Wells said that given that dozens of villages across northern Rakhine State have been targeted in a similar fashion, the death toll could be much higher. Some refugees said their non-Rohingya neighbours had been given weapons and uniforms and worked in concert with the security forces.

The NGO said it had carried out interviews with more than 100 refugees who have fled the townships alleged to have been badly burned, none of which suggested Rohingya were responsible. "Every minute counts given the fragile condition they're arriving in", UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said in Geneva. Several said that they were stopped by Bangladeshi border guards and spent the night in muddy rice fields.

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The continuing exodus of Rohingya Muslims has become a major humanitarian crisis and sparked worldwide condemnation of Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which still denies atrocities are taking place.

Satellite images have emerged that allegedly prove Rohingya villages were torched after Myanmar said "clearance operations" had ceased.

The western region descended into chaos when Rohingya militants attacked Myanmar police posts on Aug 25, triggering the brutal military crackdown.

On Monday, the European Union announced it was reviewing military cooperation with Myanmar, as the bloc called on Myanmar to bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes against the Rohingya.

Rushanara Ali, Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, on Tuesday called for the British Parliament to support the UNHCR statement that termed the treatment of the Rohingya by Myanmar military as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. "All of them need the lifesaving basics - shelter, food, water, vaccinations, protection - not tomorrow or next week or next month, but right now", said the statement.

Thousands of Rohingya refugees stranded near Bangladesh-Myanmar border