By Fatih Erel
More than 100 Rohingya Muslim refugees have drowned in shipwrecks and boat incidents since the beginning of the crisis on Aug. 25, the UN said on Friday.
"Recent arrivals told us they had been waiting for more than a month in desperate conditions on Myanmar’s shores," UN refugee agency spokesman William Spindler said in a news conference on Friday in Geneva.
Noting that some 30 improvised rafts arrived from Myanmar into Bangladesh, carrying more than 1,000 people over the past 10 days, Spindler said:
"Unable to pay for the crossing, refugees are building rafts from whatever material they can get their hands on -- mostly bamboo poles and empty jerry cans tied together with rope and covered with plastic sheets.
"Using paddles made of bamboo and plastic debris, some of these rafts made it to Shahporir Dwip in Bangladesh, a journey of about four hours. The Naf River estuary between the two countries is about three kilometers wide at this point."
According to the UN, the total Rohingya refugee population in the area is now over 833,000.
The refugees are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages.
Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by security personnel.