By Fatih Erel
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has appealed for over $3 million to address the most urgent humanitarian needs of tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in recent months.
The IRFC released a statement Monday saying that around 74,550 people crossed the border since October, when Myanmar’s military launched operations in western Rakhine State after fatal attacks on police outposts.
“Many are living in unplanned and overcrowded settlements in the district of Cox’s Bazar where living conditions are extremely poor,” it said.
"IFRC’s 3.2 million Swiss Franc [Euros 3 million, USD 3.2 million] appeal will ensure that 25,000 of the new arrivals will receive food aid and other emergency relief items, including shelter materials, together with clean water, sanitation and health care over a nine month period,” it added.
IFRC Head of Office in Bangladesh Azmat Ulla noted that most of the displaced do not have access to regular medical services and lack sufficient food or nutrition.
“Shelter is also a big issue. Many are living in sub-standard temporary structures. We need to scale up our support, particularly as there will be additional challenges ahead with the onset of the flood and cyclone season," Ulla said.
According to the IFRC, 300,000 to 500,000 Muslims from Rakhine have crossed into Bangladesh over the past three decades and close to 33,000 registered refugees are living in two official camps in the Ukhiya and Teknaf sub-districts of Cox’s Bazar.
Myanmar security forces had placed Rakhine’s northern Maungdaw area -- predominately inhabited by Rohingya -- on lockdown for nearly five months following the Oct. 9 attacks.
During the military operations, the United Nations and rights groups documented evidence of widespread abuses such as killings -- including of children and babies -- gang rape, brutal beatings, the burning of villages and disappearances.
The government has said at least 106 people have been killed since the attacks on police outposts near the border with Bangladesh.
However, Rohingya advocacy groups claim around 400 Rohingya -- described by the UN as among the most persecuted groups worldwide -- were killed, women raped and Rohingya villages torched.
The region has seen a series of communal violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims since mid-2012 that left nearly 100 dead and some 100,000 people displaced in camps.