Half a million displaced in 'critical humanitarian crisis' in Myanmar

A Bangladeshi soldier gestures as a Rohingya refugee child waits to receive his daily meal at a food distribution in Balukhali refugee camp near Gumdhum

Fleeing for their lives

"I think the way India is now approaching on the Rohingya issue, we are extremely happy", Bangladesh foreign secretary Shahidul Haque said.

The lack of humanitarian access granted by Myanmar's government to Rakhine state, where over half a million Rohingya Muslims have fled violence, was "unacceptable", the United Nations said on Friday.

Under pressure, Myanmar has set up a working group with Bangladesh to facilitate the return of Rohingyas which Bangladesh calls "forcibly displaced Myanmar citizens".

Haque's position runs contrary to New Delhi's stance that Rohingya refugees in India pose a national security threat amid fears of radicalisation.

Bangladesh still plans to expand a massive settlement in the south to accommodate almost the 900,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees that have streamed into the country from Myanmar.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said Thursday that its response plan to the crisis had been revised to $434 million to help over one million people in Bangladesh - including over 500,000 Rohingya who have arrived since August 25, Rohingya refugees who arrived earlier, and local host communities.

Under that agreement almost a quarter of a million people were repatriated from Bangladesh to Myanmar between the early 1990s and 2005, he said. So far the government of Bangladesh has been able to contain that. They all look forward to go back.

"It is important for the Myanmar security forces to handle the situation with restraint, focusing on the welfare of the civilian population", the Indian representative told the Council's 36th Session as per reports, even as it commended Bangladesh for extending humanitarian aid to such a large number from Rakhine.

The Bangladesh Foreign Secretary said there is a tendency to view such issues from the prism of radicalisation, but that obfuscates the fact that it is above all a humanitarian issue, involving women and children who "need support".

Buddhist-majority Myanmar has blocked most access to the area, although some agencies have offices open in towns there and the International Committee of the Red Cross is helping the Myanmar Red Cross to deliver aid.

The attacks intensified after Rohingya militants killed 12 security officers during coordinated attacks on border posts, according to Myanmar's state media. To add to it, Haque said that Bangladesh had given a written proposal to Myanmar on the repatriation of the immigrants.

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