In what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said is “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar has seen reports of torched villages, murdered children, gang rape and beheadings.
More than 400,000 Rohingyas have fled the country over the past three weeks after violence escalated in late August when the country’s military retaliated to Rohingya rebels’ attack on a military base.
The majority have sought refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh, with the humanitarain crisis to be among the top three “major threats” discussed by UN world leaders this week, along with North Korea and climate change.
The UN estimated earlier this month that 1000 Rohingyas had been killed, however Bangladesh authorities reported the death toll as being close to 3000.
Who are the Rohingya people?
At least one million Rohingya people populated Myanmar before the August 25 military crackdown which sent hundreds of thousands fleeing the violence.
They are an ethnic minority of Muslim faith who Myanmar classifies as stateless, illegal immigrants.
Reuters reported last week that at least 100,000 people in these camps were no longer receiving food supplies or healthcare after UN aid agencies were blocked.
Bangladesh on Sunday restricted the movement of Rohingya refugees, banning them from leaving designated areas.
Thousands are now facing hunger and illness in crowded, makeshift camps.
International Federation of the Red Cross spokeswoman Corinne Ambler told the ABC of the deplorable conditions.
“I have no words to describe what I’m seeing out there,” she said.
“Wall-to-wall human suffering, that’s what it is.
“There’s little clean water, we’ve seen people fighting over money, over food, it’s undignified, and it’s catastrophic really.”
‘If we go back, they will set us on fire’
Hundreds have been killed, including children, and villages have been burnt to the ground.
One India-based refugee, Mohammad Salimullah, told AFP of the severity of the situation.
“Back home, our chickens were kept in bigger accommodation than the ones we’re living in now,” he said.
“I would rather have the government kill us or put us in jail than have us deported back there (Myanmar).
“If we go back there, they will cut us into pieces and stack us 10 to 15 people together and set us on fire.”
The Indian government will reportedly put a case to the country’s Supreme Court arguing that the Rohingya Muslim people are a security threat who could aid terrorists.
Meanwhile, Nepal has increased surveillance at its border to prevent more Rohingya from entering the country.
The Myanmar government has accused international aid workers as assisting terrorists.
It has denied the military involvement in killing innocents, claiming that Rohingyas had torched their own villages.
The government said most of the 400 dead were “terrorists”.