UNITED NATIONS: The UN has appealed to the international community to keep aside politics and support the ongoing humanitarian efforts to help Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar.
The Rohingyas are a Muslim minority that live in the Buddhist-majority state of Rakhine, and they have experienced decades-long persecution in Myanmar, which – since gaining independence in 1948 – has refused to recognise the group as citizens.
The latest calamity was spurred when Rohingya militants attacked dozens of police posts and a military base on August 25.
The state military responded with a counter-offensive, burning down villages and driving out civilians, whose population is estimated to be around 1.1 million.
The Rohingya crisis from Myanmar has caused more than 300,000 to flee Myanmar.
Expressing concern over the situation, Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson to the UN Secretary-General said: "The reports we're getting, the pictures all of us are seeing are heart-breaking to say the least."
"I think the entire international community should support the ongoing humanitarian efforts, regardless of politics. These are people in need. These are very vulnerable people who have crossed the border, who've, as we said, are hungry and are malnourished and deserve to be helped," he said.
The spokesperson was responding to a question on the role of regional players in helping Rohingya refugees.
"Are you disappointed that major regional players, including in India, in particular, have actually sort of made their stand about this Rohingya crisis very clear and actually not come out and supported when their support could have been quite crucial?" he was asked.
The United Nation's humanitarian wing, he said, has done emergency planning for about 300,000 Rohingya refugees.
"That number has now definitely crossed that line. We are urgently appealing for more funds," he said.
"Whether it's UNHCR, WFP and other agencies, (we) are trying to get as much aid into the country as quickly as possible. Obviously, from what we've read out, we haven't been able to reach all the people that we need to.
"The added challenge is that a lot of people are crossing the border, going to makeshift settlements, or otherwise living outside more organised structures, which could make it easier for us to reach them," he said.
Dujarric said the government of Bangladesh has asked the UN to help establish a new camp to house the newly arrived refugees.