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  • A woman walks among debris after fire destroyed shelters at a camp for internally displaced Rohingya Muslims near Sittwe, Myanmar, May 3, 2016.

    A woman walks among debris after fire destroyed shelters at a camp for internally displaced Rohingya Muslims near Sittwe, Myanmar, May 3, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

A majority of those fleeing the violence are women and children.

Nearly 18,445 Rohingya Muslims have fled the conflict-ridden Rakhine region in Myanmar to reach or in an attempt to reach the neighboring Bangladesh, in the last few weeks, U.N.'s Institute of Migration has reported.

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A majority of those fleeing the violence are women and children. Sanjukta Sahany, IOM's head in southeastern Bangladesh, said, "People are traumatized, which is quite visible.

"They are in a very, very desperate condition," Sahany added. "The biggest needs are food, health services and they need shelter. They need at least some cover, some roofs over their heads."

Sahany said many who crossed the border, had "bullet injuries and burn injuries.

“We are working with authorities and partners to urgently deliver food, water and medical care to the Rohingya community in Cox’s Bazar (in Bangladesh),” said Mohammed Abdiker, the Director of Operations and Emergencies at the IOM.

The mass exodus began after the clashes erupted between the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army and the local police.

On Sunday, after ARSA attacked nearly two dozen police and border outposts, the state police allegedly opened fire at locals killing at least 109 people, according to government figures.

However, citing the locals and activists in the region, Al Jazeera reported the casualties to be much higher, nearly 800 Muslim Rohingyas, including women and children, have been killed in the latest violence.

The Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy has been in power for nearly two years but the renowned human rights leader has been widely criticized for not acknowledging the grave human rights violations against the minority Rohingya people.

At the beginning of 2017, Suu Kyi denied visas to members of a U.N. fact-finding mission who were to investigate the ongoing human rights abuses by security forces in the Rakhine state against the Rohingya Muslim minorities.

Over several decades, the government has made consistent efforts to erase the minority-Muslim Rohingya’s historical ties to Rakhine state that date to the 8th century by denying them basic human rights such as citizenship, access to education, among others. Since 1994, they have not received their birth certificates from the state. They also require a government permit to marry.

The Myanmar government refuses to consider the Rohingya as a legitimate native ethnic minority and considers them as illegal immigrants who came from neighboring Bangladesh.

According to a UNHCR report on forced displacement in South-East Asia, over 168,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar in the last five years as a result of violence and desperation.

Between 1991 and 1992, nearly 250,000 Rohingya refugees fled to Bangladesh amid grave human rights violations such as rape, forced labor, and religious persecution.


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