- The United Nations is preparing a 'further exodus' of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh
- The news comes as 515,000 have already fled from Rahkine state in just six weeks
- The U.N. has branded the ongoing violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority as ethnic cleansing
- U.N.-led aid bodies have appealed for $434 million over six months to help up to 1.2 million people
The U.N. is preparing for a “further exodus” of Muslim Rohingya refugees as violence against the minority group continues in Myanmar.
It has been just six weeks since the world’s fastest-developing refugee emergency began but already some 515,000 have fled to Bangladesh from Rakhine State.
The body has previously slammed the actions of the Myanmar military as ethnic cleansing. However, the Burmese state insists that it is fighting terrorists.
“This flow of people of Myanmar hasn’t stopped yet. Obviously, there’s into the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya still in Myanmar, and we want to be ready in case there is a further exodus,” Mark Lowcock, U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs said on Friday.
Meanwhile, Lowcock also criticized the Burmese blockade which has prevented much aid from reaching the state.
“The access we have in northern Rakhine State is unacceptable,” he added.
Rights groups say more than half of the Rohingya villages in the north of Rakhine state have been torched in a campaign to drive out Muslims.
Myanmar has blocked most access to the area, although some agencies have offices open in towns there and the International Red Cross is helping to deliver some aid.
A senior U.N. official was expected to visit Myanmar in the next few days, according to Lowcock.
U.N.-led aid bodies have appealed for $434 million over six months to help up to 1.2 million people - including 300,000 Rohingya already in Bangladesh before the latest crisis and 300,000 Bangladeshi villagers in so-called host communities.
In recent days, Burmese prime minister Aung San Suu Kyi has said that the country is ready to start a process agreed with Bangladesh in 1993 by which anyone verified as a refugee would be accepted back.
Lowcock said talks between Myanmar and Bangladesh on a repatriation plan were a positive step.
“But there is clearly a long way to go,” he said.
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