Press TV – The UN has announced that it is on “full alert” for a mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims as reports show a sharp spike of them fleeing Myanmar.
“We’re back in a situation of full alert as far as influxes are concerned. It is a big increase to see 11,000,” said the spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Adrian Edwards, on Tuesday.
Myanmar’s army renewed its bloody crackdown on the ethnic minority population in August, with numerous documented incidents of massacre and rape of Muslim men and women.
Authorities in Myanmar, led by de facto leader Aug San Suu Kyi, have been tightly controlling access to Rakhine since August, when purported attacks by Rohingya fighters prompted a brutal military response that has forced over 515,000 Rohingya to flee for Bangladesh. The crackdown, backed by radical Buddhist monks, has left scores of Rohingya villages torched and completely destroyed.
“We have had big numbers coming across by the day over the six weeks of this emergency. So we are back up to approaching some of those peak arrivals. Clearly we have to be prepared for more arrivals,” Edwards added.
“Some said they had fled torching and killings back home; one boy was seen with a big gash across his neck,” he added.
“Some of these people have fled their homes several days ago and in some cases two weeks ago, so they moved toward the border before coming across,” Edwards said. “As you may have seen from media reports which I can’t verify, but there are reports about fires being seen close to the border (and) other problems there.”
Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a large scale cholera immunization campaign has begun near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, with the goal of safeguarding newly-arrived Rohingya and host communities from the deadly disease.
WHO noted that 900,000 oral vaccine doses are set to be distributed among children to the age of five, 650,000 of which during an initial 10-day campaign to be followed by a second round from October 31.
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said that despite no confirmed cases of cholera, there was a “clear and present risk” of the disease spreading among the population.
Myanmar’s government denies full citizenship to Rohingya Muslims, branding them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Witnesses and rights groups have reported systematic attacks, including rape, murder and arson, at the hands of the army and Buddhist mobs against the Rohingya.