UN Denounces Lack of Humanitarian Access to Myanmar's Rakhine State

Fleeing for their lives

"The access we have in northern Rakhine state is unacceptable", Mark Lowcock, head of the United Nations humanitarian office, told reporters in Geneva.

The influx has also put Bangladesh under huge strain, with the South Asian country already hosting at least 300,000 Rohingya refugees in squalid camps along its border with Myanmar before the latest surge in arrivals.

A small United Nations team visited the crisis-wracked region in majority Buddhist Myanmar in recent days and described witnessing "unimaginable" suffering.

"People are arriving in Bangladesh with bullet wounds, people are exhausted, hundreds of villages have been burnt", he said.

Rohingya-majority Rakhine has been emptied of half of its Muslim population over the past weeks and more people are on the move as unspeakable acts of violence continue against the Rohingya.

Almost half a million Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh due to violence in the Rakhine state that has claimed lives of at least more than 100 people and displaced several others.

Thousands of Islamist hardliners marched in Bangladesh's port city of Chittagong Friday calling for the government to arm Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing a crackdown in Myanmar's troubled Rakhine state.

Cholera is a risk, amid fears of disease spreading in the rain-drenched camps where aid workers are trying to install sanitation systems, a spokesman for the World Health Organisation said.

It conveyed as much to New Delhi, which in fact led to modifications in India's stance including pressure on Myanmar to rein in the security forces, and humanitarian aid to Bangladesh.

But Mr Lowcock said he believed a "high-level" team would be able to visit the area in the next few days.

Bangladesh will build a single, enormous refugee camp to house around 800,000 Rohingya refugees as a Bangladeshi minister warned his country was struggling to deal with the flood across the border.

Hindus and ethnic Rakhine were also among the dead - allegedly killed by Rohingya militants.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's leader, was criticised for not doing more to intervene - but has since spoken out against any human rights abuses.

The Foreign Minister said that the Bangladesh government wants Rohingyas to go back as soon as possible.

They plan to expand an existing camp near the border town of Cox's Bazar so that it can accommodate around 800,000 people.

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