GENEVA – Around 11,000 Rohingyas crossed over into Bangladesh in a single day in a fresh surge of refugees fleeing an ongoing military offensive in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Tuesday.
The refugees had reportedly crossed across the land border on Monday; the same day a boat full of them had sank, killing at least 24 people, while dozens are still missing.
“UNHCR is working with the Bangladesh authorities on a transit center to prepare for a potential refugee influx in the coming days,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards said at a news briefing.
More than half a million Rohingyas, a Muslim minority in Myanmar mainly living in the Rakhine province, have fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape the ongoing offensive by the Myanmar army that began on Aug. 25, after Rohingya rebels had mounted attacks on multiple government posts in the region.
“We’re back in a situation of full alert as far as influxes are concerned,” Edwards said, warning that the situation might worsen.
While Edwards did not elaborate on the cause of the fresh exodus, he did not rule out the possibility that the recently arrived Rohingyas could have started their journey on foot two weeks ago or more, at the peak of the military operation.
The refugees who arrived in Bangladesh on Monday have told of murders and torching of their villages in Myanmar, he added.
The UN is also planning to send a high-level mission to Myanmar to start discussions with the government and address the situation.
Myanmar has refused permission to international organizations to depute their staff and send aid inside the country, Edwards told EFE.
Unverified reports have said that aid sent for internally displaced Rohingyas are being blocked.