BANGLADESH: The Rohingya refugee crisis is worsening daily with the UN announcing Thursday that 500,000 from the Muslim minority have now fled to Bangladesh since late August, overwhelming camps short of food, water and shelter.
Here are five key dates in the crisis: Early on August 25, hundreds of Rohinyga militants stage coordinated attacks on 30 police posts in Myanmar’s westernmost state of Rakhine. At least 12 police are killed.
The Myanmar army hits back fast and hard with “clearance operations” in Rohingya villages. It says it is trying to flush out insurgents from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
But witnesses tell of Rohingya civilians being massacred in retaliation, with mortars and machine guns fired at villagers fleeing to the Bangladesh border.
The crackdown sparks an exodus from Rohingya villages, which are soon burning so fiercely the flames and smoke are visible from Bangladesh.
Within 11 days of the attacks, more than 120,000 Rohingya have flooded into Bangladesh, overwhelming the handful of ill-equipped refugee camps around Cox’s Bazar.
Many arrive desperate for food and water after walking for more than a week over hills and through dense jungle. Some need urgent treatment for bullet wounds and machete gashes.
Bangladesh already houses at least 300,000 Rohingya in camps near the border. The fresh influx creates a dire shortage of food, clean water and shelter.
Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, under increasing international pressure, says a “huge iceberg of misinformation” is distorting the global picture of events in Rakhine.
In her first comments since the August 25 attacks, Suu Kyi says fake news is “calculated to create a lot of problems between different communities” and to promote “the interest of the terrorists”.
But fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureates Malala Yousafzai and Desmond Tutu criticise Suu Kyi. Hundreds of thousands sign a Change.org petition demanding the Nobel committee withdraw her award but it refuses.
As the crisis worsens, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein says Myanmar’s systematic attacks bear the hallmarks of a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Rights groups warn of a final push by the army and Buddhist mobs to drive the stateless Rohingya from Myanmar for good.
Landmines claim more victims, with three Rohingya killed in a blast while fleeing Myanmar.
The Myanmar military flies journalists to the place where the mass graves of 45 Hindu villagers, including many women and children, were discovered, as a search effort for dozens more continues. ARSA denied any involvement in the killings which were revealed as the humanitarian crisis spiralled on both sides of the Myanmar-Bangladesh border.
In the Bangladesh camps, aid groups said they had seen thousands of cases of child malnutrition amid shortages of food, water and medicines that is claiming a growing toll among the Rohingya.