News World Rohingya rebels declare truce as refugees become desperate

Rohingya rebels declare truce as refugees become desperate

Rohingya man
Fights have erupted over food and water in the makeshift refugee camps. Photo: AP
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Rohingya insurgents, whose attack on Myanmar security forces last month triggered savage military reprisals, have declared a month-long truce.

The Muslim insurgents of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army issued the truce statement on its Twitter account and urged Myanmar’s Government to reciprocate in order to assist all victims, regardless of their background.

The violent military response to the attack sent many Rohingya refugees across the border into Bangladesh, where they are now facing hunger and illness in crowded makeshift camps.

The Government did not immediately comment on the truce declaration.

The rebels, who say they are fighting to protect their minority members against government-sponsored persecution, launched their first known attacks last October and again on August 25.

According to Rohingya refugees, the military responded with indiscriminate killings, burning entire villages and forcing tens of thousands to flee.

The Government said most of the 400 dead were “terrorists.”

‘Stocks are running out’

The United Nations on Saturday said an estimated 290,000 Rohingya Muslims have arrived in the border district of Cox’s Bazar in just the last two weeks, joining at least 100,000 who were already there after fleeing earlier riots or persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

The number was expected to swell further, with thousands crossing the border each day, and fights have erupted over food and water.

Women and children were tapping on car windows or tugging at the clothes of passing reporters while rubbing their bellies and begging for food.

Many Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh with bullet injuries. Photo: AP

Health experts warned of the potential for outbreaks of disease.

Many of the newly-arrived were initially stunned and traumatised after fleeing the violence.

They are now growing desperate in searching for food distribution points that appeared only in recent days, passing out packets of biscuits and 25-kilogram bags of rice.

One aid worker, who asked not to be identified, said “stocks are running out”, with the refugees’ needs far greater than what they had imagined.

At one food distribution point, women were volunteering to help keep order by tapping people with bamboo sticks to gently urge them back in line.

Weary women carried infants in their arms while clutching other children to their sides, afraid they might be separated in the crowds.