One million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar could enter Bangladesh by the end of the year, the United Nations said Thursday.
Between 10,000 and 20,000 Rohingya Muslims, fleeing persecution in Myanmar, arrive in Bangladesh daily, Mohammed Abdiker Mohamud, director of the U.N. International Organization for Migration, said. The U.N. director added that the international community is “not yet doing enough” to ease the crisis.
Mohamud spoke in Dhaka after a visit to Cox’s Bazar, a port city and arrival site for the refugees in Bangladesh, on Thursday.
“Nobody expected that and nobody was ready to give food, shelter to such a huge number of people. In Europe we are now complaining about 100,000 people who arrived in 12 months from Libya into Europe. Bangladesh has received almost 400,000 in two and a half weeks. That showed the magnitude of the situation.
George Okoth-Obbo, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Refugees assistant high commissioner, added that Bangladesh faces a serious humanitarian crisis. About 400,000 Rohingya, an ethnic and religious minority group long denied citizenship in Myanmar, have crossed the border into Bangladesh since a violent crackdown by government forces, described by some as ethnic cleansing, began on Aug. 25.
Preliminary estimates indicate that 60 percent of those refugees are children. Okoth-Obbo said he appreciates the Bangladeshi government’s efforts to welcome the Rohingya, but called for a “comprehensive response.”
“We have to step up across all areas of need,” he said.
Last Friday in Gaza, Muslim religious leaders devoted their sermons to the plight of the Rohingya people — who are largely Muslim, though Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist nation.
“News about what is happening to the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar is just the tip of the iceberg,” Wael al-Zerd of Gaza City’s Palestine Mosque, said. “Where are those who always talk about human rights now that the Rohingya are being massacred?”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the U.N. Security Council called for “immediate steps” to end violence against the Rohingya people on Wednesday.
“The humanitarian situation is catastrophic. When we met last week, there were 125,000 Rohingya refugees who had fled into Bangladesh. That number has now tripled to nearly 380,000. Many are staying in makeshift settlements or with host communities who are generously sharing what they have. Women and children are arriving hungry and malnourished,” Guterres said in a statement.
By Ed Adamczyk