Dhaka – The latest wave of violence in Myanmar has left at least 6,700 Rohingya Muslims after the Burmese military launched crackdown that also forced hundreds of thousands to flee to Bangladesh.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), a humanitarian agency, came up with the estimate on Thursday based on a series of survey it conducted in Rohingya camps in south-eastern Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar district bordering Myanmar.
More than 640,000 Rohingya Muslims crossed into Bangladesh after the Myanmar army launched the offensive against suspected Muslim insurgents in Rakhine state on August 25.
The civilians who crossed the border reported that their relatives were killed and homes torched by the army and Buddhist vigilantes to drive them away from their ancestral homes.
The MSF, which is also known as Doctor’s Without Border, while conducting the mortality survey at makeshift Rohingya settlements found a total of 9,000 people were killed in the first month of the violence.
At least 6,700 them died because of the violence, said the survey report adding that an estimated 730 children below the age of 5 years were also among those killed by the army.
Gunshots, burn, beating, rape and slaughtering among other means of brutality carried out on the minority group, according to the survey that covered 608,108 displaced people, 503,698 of whom had fled Myanmar after the latest wave of violence began on August 25.
The MFS estimation for deaths from the ethnic violence is much higher than that of the initial claim by Myanmar military officials who in early September put the death toll to nearly 400, including 12 officers.
“The numbers of deaths are likely to be an underestimation as we have not surveyed all refugee settlements in Bangladesh and because the surveys don’t account for the families who never made it out of Myanmar,” Dr. Sidney Wong, medical director of MSF said in a statement.
The United Nations and United States termed the clampdown as “ethnic cleansing” while human rights groups accused Myanmar army of committing “crimes against humanity”.
The influx of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh was still continued despite Naypyidaw and Dhaka last month signed an agreement for repatriation of the displaced people.
Aid agencies have been asking the governments of both countries not to put these displaced people into danger again by repatriatiting them without creating an atmosphere of safety in the Rakhine state.
“Currently people are still fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh and those who do manage to cross the border still report being subject to violence in recent weeks,” Wong said.