Tuesday, February 20, 2018 | ePaper
15,000 refugees stranded near border UN urges BD to speed up vetting
A Rohingya refugee woman who crossed the border from Myanmar a day before, carries her daughter to Palang Khali, camp in Bangladesh on Tuesday.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) urged Bangladesh on Tuesday to speed up vetting of about 15,000 Rohingya refugees "stranded" near the border after they cross into the country and move them further inland to provide safer and better conditions.
Some 5,82,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar since violence erupted on August 25 in the northern Rakhine state, where they had no access to food and health care, UN officials said.
Â "We are gravely worried about humanitarian conditions in Bangladesh, whereÂ Â thousands of new arrivals are stranded near the border," UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic told a Geneva news briefing.
An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 have entered Bangladesh through the Anjuman Para border crossing point since Sunday night, many of whom walked for about a week to reach the border, he said.
"We are advocating with the Bangladesh authorities to urgently admit these refugees fleeing violence aimidst increasingly difficult conditions to return home," Mahecic said.
The delay happened due to screening by Bangladesh Border Guards, he said, emphasising this was the right of any government.
UN aid agencies have not had access to the shrinking Rohingya population in northern Rakhine State since the August 25 reported attacks on police posts and army campaign.
Jens Laerke, spokesman of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that Rohingya in Rakhine now faced a "desperate choice whether to stay or go", not only due to the violence, but also for humanitarian needs.
Â "They need food, they need health care and other necessaries. These are certainly burning factor to consider," he said.
Nearly 60 per cent of the 5,82,000 refugees who have fled Myanmar since August 25 are children - and thousands more are crossing each week, UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado said.
UNICEF, which is supplying clean water every day to 40,000 people in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, and has installed thousands of toilets, may have to stop operations by the end of November unless further funds are received, she said.
A UN inter-agency appeal for $434 million for Rohingya in Bangladesh and host communities is only 24 percent funded, OCHA's Laerke said.