Some 100,000 Muslim refugees have fled the violence in western Burma since the most recent clashes began ten days ago, the United Nations said on Monday.
Thousands of the stateless Muslim minority have fled the mainly Buddhist nation and poured over the border since the latest round of fighting broke out, piling pressure on the already overcrowded camps in Bangladesh.
A total of 87,000 mostly Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since violence erupted in Burma’s western state of Rakhine on August 25, and around 20,000 more are massed on the border waiting to enter, the UN said.
Rohingya refugees walk beside the Teknaf-Cox’s Bazar highway near Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhiya, Bangladesh
Dhaka stepped up border controls after the latest round of violence began 10 days ago.
But in recent days Bangladeshi border guards appeared to be allowing the fleeing refugees to enter and the UN said recent arrivals reported there had been no attempt to prevent them from crossing.
Over the last five years Rakhine has been divided along ethnic and religious lines, but the current violence is the worst yet.
Scores of people have drowned attempting to cross the Naf border river, many in makeshift boats.
Most of the new arrivals have crammed into camps near the border, where the UN said local people were helping the relief effort.
A total of 87,000 mostly Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since violence erupted in neighbouring Myanmar on August 25, according to the UN
Rakhine has been a crucible of religious violence since 2012, when riots erupted. Scores of Rohingya were killed and tens of thousands of people — the majority from the Muslim minority – were forced into displacement camps.
The latest round of violence erupted when Rohingya militants attacked remote police posts, killing 15 officials and burning villages.
Myanmar’s army chief has said nearly 400 people have died since then, including 370 Rohingya militants.
Myanmar security forces have launched “clearance” operations to sweep out insurgents whose ranks appear to be swelling as male Rohingya villagers join their cause.
Rights groups allege massacres of Rohingya in remote villages led by Myanmar police and troops and ethnic Rakhine Buddhist mobs.
The Rohingya community numbering roughly one million is reviled in Myanmar. They are seen as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh even though many have lived for generations in Myanmar.