Tags: AS | Myanmar | Attacks

Wounded and 'afraid,' Rohingya Seek Bangladesh Hospital Aid

Wounded and 'afraid,' Rohingya Seek Bangladesh Hospital Aid

Monday, 04 September 2017 06:40 AM

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) — With Rohingya refugees still streaming across the swampy border into Bangladesh, one hospital was struggling Monday to treat dozens of men who had arrived with broken bones, bullet wounds and horrific stories of death.

Already, some 73,000 Rohingya Muslims have entered Bangladesh in fleeing violence in western Myanmar, which erupted Aug. 25. The refugees have filled three existing refugee camps set up in the 1990s, aid workers say. Thousands more were sheltering wherever they could find space.

"We have heard reports of people cordoned off in the area" near the border, said UNHCR spokeswoman Vivian Tan. "We have also heard reports that at some border points, controls have been relaxed."

UNHCR field agents had yet to gain access to border areas to fully assess the situation, but aid workers said many refugees needed medical attention for respiratory diseases, infections and malnutrition.

On Monday, a clutch of refugees carrying nothing but bed sheets and personal documents in plastic bags were squatting in the open behind the Cox's Bazar Sadar Hospital, about two hours from the nearest border point.

Inside, the hospital said it had treated 31 men who arrived "distressed and afraid" with broken bones and bullet wounds, mostly to their limbs, according to the resident medical officer Dr. Shaheen Abdur Rahman Choudhury.

They all told similar stories of Myanmar soldiers opening fire randomly on their villages in western Myanmar on Aug. 26-27, Choudhury said.

"They were fired upon; their homes were set on fire; they were forced to run. These are the common descriptions they give us," Choudhury said.

The hospital, already "hugely overburdened," was expecting to receive many more wounded refugees," he said. "What we are seeing is the tip of the iceberg."

The violence and the exodus began on Aug. 25, when Rohingya insurgents attacked Myanmar police and paramilitary posts in what they said was an effort to protect their ethnic minority from persecution by security forces in the majority Buddhist country.

In response, the military unleashed what it called "clearance operations" to root out the insurgents.

But it was just the latest episode in an ongoing struggle between Myanmar's minority Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists. Bloody rioting that erupted in 2012 forced more than 100,000 Rohingya into displacement camps in Bangladesh, where many still live today.

In the recent violence, Myanmar security officials and Rohingya insurgents have accused each other of committing atrocities. The military has said nearly 400 people, most of them insurgents, have died in clashes.

Bangladesh police say dozens of Rohingya have died attempting to cross the river separating the two countries.

Myanmar's government blames the insurgents for burning their own homes and killing Buddhists in Rakhine state.

The three Rohingya men and teenage boy released Monday from the government hospital in Cox's Bazar recalled events differently.

Mohammad Irshad, 27, told the Associated Press he saw at least eight bodies after his village near the coastal town of Maungdaw was visited by at least 30 soldiers, who he said opened fire indiscriminately and then set fire to homes and other buildings.

A 16-year-old boy named Mohammed Osama said he'd tried to flee into the nearby forest when soldiers entered his village on Aug. 26, but instead was shot by one of them in the thigh. With a gaping bullet wound in his leg, he was carried by his father and some of his 11 siblings across the border. He received treatment at the hospital, but his siblings joined thousands now packed into the Bangladeshi fishing village of Shah Porir Dwip.

Yet another Myanmar village near Maungdaw was destroyed by about 50 Myanmar soldiers, according to 25-year-old Rohingya villager Mohammad Arafat.

"I started running when the firing started and lost track of both my parents. I don't know if they're dead or alive," Arafat told the AP. "They're cutting up people, shooting people. I'm very afraid. I never want to go back."

His wife and mother-in-law were sheltering in the border area of Teknaf, he said. But Arafat felt stuck. He'd been told by the Cox's Bazar hospital to seek further treatment for his wounds at a hospital in Chittagong, but "I have no money. I don't know what to do."

Follow Muneeza Naqvi at www.twitter.com/mnaqvi10.

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With Rohingya refugees still streaming across the swampy border into Bangladesh, one hospital was struggling Monday to treat dozens of men who had arrived with broken bones, bullet wounds and horrific stories of death.Already, some 73,000 Rohingya Muslims have entered...
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2017-40-04
Monday, 04 September 2017 06:40 AM
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