Aid groups struggle as more Rohingya flood into Bangladesh

An exhausted Rohingya helps an elderly family member and a child as they arrive at Kutupalong refugee camp after crossing from Myanmmar to the Bangladesh side of the border, in Ukhia, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. The man said he lost several family members in Myanmar. Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, fleeing the latest round of violence to engulf their homes in Myanmar, have been walking for days or handing over their meager savings to Burmese and Bangladeshi smugglers to escape what they describe as certain death. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Myanmar's national security advisor Thaung Tun, talks to journalists during a press conference at the Ministry of State Counsellor in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Thaung Tun said on Wednesday that the country’s armed forces were using maximum restraint in their military operations during the ongoing crisis in Rakhine State, and that an insurgent group that launched deadly attacks on 30 police posts two weeks ago were trying to carve out a separate Muslim state. (AP Photo)
Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, waits for India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to arrive for their meeting at the President House in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Wednesday, Sept 6, 2017. (AP Photo)
Journalists record a press conference at the Ministry of State Counsellor in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. National Security Advisor Thaung Tun said on Wednesday that the country’s armed forces were using maximum restraint in their military operations during the ongoing crisis in Rakhine State, and that an insurgent group that launched deadly attacks on 30 police posts two weeks ago were trying to carve out a separate Muslim state. (AP Photo)
Members of Pakistani civil society groups protest against the persecution of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. The U.N. refugee agency said some 123,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since violence erupted in Myanmar on Aug. 25, and that established refugee camps were now at "breaking point." (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Myanmar's Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Win Myat Aye talks to journalists during a press conference in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Sept. 6, 2017. TDuring the press conference, National Security Advisor Thaung Tun said that the country’s armed forces were using maximum restraint in their military operations during the ongoing crisis in Rakhine State, and that an insurgent group that launched deadly attacks on 30 police posts two weeks ago were trying to carve out a separate Muslim state. (AP Photo)
Myanmar's National Security Advisor Thaung Tun, talks to journalists during a press conference at the Ministry of State Counsellor in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Wednesday, Sept 6, 2017. Sept. 6, 2017. Thaung Tun said on Wednesday that the country’s armed forces were using maximum restraint in their military operations during the ongoing crisis in Rakhine State, and that an insurgent group that launched deadly attacks on 30 police posts two weeks ago were trying to carve out a separate Muslim state. (AP Photo)
Myanmar Border Guard Police walk ahead of a Rohingya trishaw driver and passanger, along the main road of Buthidaung, northern Rakhine state of Myanmar, on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's top security adviser sought to counter the storm of criticism the government is facing from around the world over alleged army abuses against ethnic minority Rohingya, asserting that security forces were acting with restraint in pursuing "terrorists." (AP Photo)
Hazuli, 38, second right, stands outside of the public school with her family where they are taking shelter after her family fled from the violence that broke out on Aug. 25 in Maungdaw town, northern Rakhine state of Myanmar, on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's top security adviser sought to counter the storm of criticism the government is facing from around the world over alleged army abuses against ethnic minority Rohingya, asserting that security forces were acting with restraint in pursuing "terrorists." (AP Photo)
A Hindu man sits outside of the public where he is taking shelter after fleeing from the violence that broke out on Aug. 25 in Maungdaw town, northern Rakhine state of Myanmar, on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's top security adviser sought to counter the storm of criticism the government is facing from around the world over alleged army abuses against ethnic minority Rohingya, asserting that security forces were acting with restraint in pursuing "terrorists." (AP Photo)
A Myanmar police officer stands watch as journalists arrive in Shwe Zar village in the suburb of Maungdaw town, northern Rakhine state of Myanmar, on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's top security adviser sought to counter the storm of criticism the government is facing from around the world over alleged army abuses against ethnic minority Rohingya, asserting that security forces were acting with restraint in pursuing "terrorists." (AP Photo)
A Myanmar police officer stands watch as journalists arrive in Shwe Zar village in the suburb of Maungdaw town, northern Rakhine state of Myanmar, on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's top security adviser sought to counter the storm of criticism the government is facing from around the world over alleged army abuses against ethnic minority Rohingya, asserting that security forces were acting with restraint in pursuing "terrorists." (AP Photo)
Muslim protesters are seen through razor wire barricades during a rally against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims outside the Myanmar's Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Several thousand people marched in Indonesia's capital on Wednesday, calling on the government of the world's most populous Muslim nation to put more pressure on Myanmar to halt the persecution of its Rohingya Muslim minority. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
A Myanmar security officer walks past burned Rohingya houses in Ka Nyin Tan village of suburb Maungdaw, northern Rakhine state of western Myanmar, on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's top security adviser sought to counter the storm of criticism the government is facing from around the world over alleged army abuses against ethnic minority Rohingya, asserting that security forces were acting with restraint in pursuing "terrorists." At least 80 houses were burned in Ka Nyin Tan during the violence that broke out on Aug 25. The Myanmar government said that the Rohingya villagers burned their homes down themselves. (AP Photo)

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh — Aid agencies were struggling to cope with a nonstop flood of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh, where some 146,000 have arrived hungry and terrified after fleeing renewed violence in Myanmar — a crisis the country's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, dismissed as a misinformation campaign.

With the influx pushing existing Rohingya refugee camps to the brink, Bangladesh pledged to build at least one more. The International Organization for Migration has pleaded for $18 million in foreign aid to help feed and shelter tens of thousands now packed into makeshift settlements or stranded in a no-man's land between the two countries' borders.

U.N. agencies said they were distributing food to new arrivals, about 80 percent of whom were women and children, joining about 100,000 who had already been sheltering in Bangladesh after fleeing earlier convulsions of violence in majority-Buddhist Myanmar.

"We've not had something on this scale here in many years," said Pavlo Kolovos, the Bangladesh mission leader for Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF, in a statement. "Our teams are seeing streams of people arriving destitute and extremely traumatized," including many in need of urgent medical care for violence-related injuries, severe infections or childbirth complications.

With so many Rohingya fleeing, it's unclear how many remain in Myanmar amid reports of soldiers burning villages and killing civilians. Before the recent violence, aid experts had estimated about 1 million Rohingya were living in northern Rakhine state, but aid agencies have been unable to access the area since.

"We are unable to reach the 28,000 children to whom we were previously providing psychosocial care or the more than 4,000 children who were treated for malnutrition in Buthidaung and Maungdaw" in Rakhine, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said. "Our clean water and sanitation work has been suspended, as have school repairs that were under way."

Turkey said that Myanmar agreed to allow its aid officials to enter Rakhine state with a ton of food and goods for Rohingya, and that its foreign minister would visit a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar on Thursday.

The violence has driven some Rohingya to flee into forests near their villages or to beaches on the Bay of Bengal in hopes of rescue.

Bangladesh's Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered a protest note to Myanmar's envoy Wednesday expressing concern about reports that Myanmar's security forces had planted land mines along the border, and demanding immediate measures to de-escalate the violence.

Seeking to counter the storm of international criticism, Suu Kyi's top security adviser on Wednesday asserted that security forces were acting with restraint in pursuing "terrorists."

National Security Advisor Thaung Tun told a news conference Myanmar's capital, Naypyitaw, that he was "deeply disappointed and saddened by the disinformation campaign being waged around the world with regard to the situation in Rakhine."

Meanwhile, Suu Kyi complained to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call Tuesday that Turkey's deputy prime minister was a victim of fake news when he posted photos purportedly showing dead Rohingya that were not related to the crisis. The photos on Mehmet Simsek's Twitter account have been taken down.

According to her office, Suu Kyi said such misinformation helps promote the interests of "terrorists," a reference to the Rohingya insurgents whose attacks on Myanmar security posts on Aug. 25 triggered the latest military crackdown and streams of refugees.

The crisis response director for Amnesty International called Suu Kyi's response "unconscionable."

"This is a human rights and humanitarian catastrophe," said Tirana Hassan in a statement, noting the Rohingya streaming across the border and thousands of others displaced in Rakhine.

"In her first comments on the crisis, instead of promising concrete action to protect the people in Rakhine state, Aung San Suu Kyi appears to be downplaying the horrific reports coming out of the area," Hassan said.

The group that claimed responsibility for the Aug. 25 attacks on Myanmar police posts, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, says it acted to defend persecuted Rohingya communities, but has been vague about its ideology and ultimate goals.

The military said it responded with "clearance operations" aimed at rooting out insurgents, and that nearly 400 people, most of them insurgents, have died in clashes. It blamed the insurgents for setting Rohingya villages on fire.

Many displaced Rohingya, however, said it was Myanmar soldiers who set their homes aflame and fired indiscriminately around their villages in Rakhine state.

Rohingya Muslims have long faced discrimination in the Southeast Asian country.

___

Associated Press journalist Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to the report.

Must Read

The Latest: Mattis says Islamic State still focus in Syria

Apr 12, 2017

The mission of the United States in Syria hasn't changed

Renowned Hungarian film director Karoly Makk dies at 91

Aug 30, 2017

Karoly Makk, one of Hungary's greatest film directors whose "Cats' Play" was nominated for an Oscar in 1975, has died at age 91

Kardashian women give $500,000 to help Harvey victims

Aug 29, 2017

Kim Kardashian West and her famous siblings are donating $500,000 to help victims of Hurricane Harvey

People also read these

The Latest: Mattis says Islamic State still focus in Syria

Apr 12, 2017

The mission of the United States in Syria hasn't changed

Renowned Hungarian film director Karoly Makk dies at 91

Aug 30, 2017

Karoly Makk, one of Hungary's greatest film directors whose "Cats' Play" was nominated for an Oscar in 1975, has died at age 91

Kardashian women give $500,000 to help Harvey victims

Aug 29, 2017

Kim Kardashian West and her famous siblings are donating $500,000 to help victims of Hurricane Harvey

Weather, 20 December
Houston Weather
+7

High: +11° Low: -2°

Humidity: 83%

Wind: NNE - 7 KPH

Canberra Weather
+27

High: +27° Low: +17°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: W - 20 KPH

Roissy-en-France Weather
+6

High: +6° Low: -5°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: ENE - 7 KPH

Florence Weather
+9

High: +9° Low: +6°

Humidity: 97%

Wind: ENE - 17 KPH

Parga Weather
+7

High: +16° Low: +4°

Humidity: 100%

Wind: SE - 25 KPH