The U.N. refugee agency says it is preparing to assist a huge new influx of Rohingya refugees fleeing into Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh to escape violence in Myanmar.
Amid the sudden new surge in arrivals, the U.N. refugee agency, alongside Bangladeshi authorities, is setting up a transit center to prepare for a potentially large influx in coming days.
The UNHCR reports more than 11,000 Rohingya crossed into southeastern Bangladesh on Monday. That is a steep increase over the average of 2,000 daily arrivals. Refugees say they were fleeing torchings and killings back home.
UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards says the refugees have walked for up to two weeks to reach Bangladesh under arduous and dramatic conditions.
“Many people were carrying children, baskets containing whatever they could pack at short notice," he said. "People were wading through marshland before swimming across the Naf river. Inevitably, there were people who could not swim and had to be given lifts — piggyback on volunteer swimmers. Some used inflated plastic bags, even UNHCR tarpaulins as makeshift flotation devices.”
Well over half-a-million refugees have fled Myanmar for Cox’s Bazar since August 25, making this the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis. Edwards says the current exodus is approaching peak levels.
Edwards says some of the newly arriving refugees are injured and many are traumatized. He says he does not know what is driving the new influx, but adds it is a worrying situation that has the potential to worsen.