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Bangladesh Can Accept 700,000 Rohingya Refugees (Photo)

| by Simone Stover

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh has said that her country can feed 700,000 of the Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar. 

According to The Guardian, 1.1 million Rohingya people live in Myanmar and are located mainly in the Rakhine state. They claim to be descendants of Muslims and have had a tension-filled relationship with Myanmar's Buddhist population for several decades. 

The Rohingya are reportedly seen by many as illegal immigrants and the Myanmar government has denied them citizenship, which limits their freedom of movement and access services such as education. 

Violence in Myanmar broke out when Rohingya militants attacked border police on Aug. 25. The Myanmar government responded with a "clearance operation" that has killed 1,000 people as of Sept. 7, according to a United Nations estimate. The Myanmar government claims about 400 people have been killed. 

On Sept. 11, Hasina traveled to Ukhiya, Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, to visit the Kutupalong Refugee Camp, according to the Dhaka Tribune. 

"We have the ability to feed 160 million people of Bangladesh and we have enough food security to feed the 700,000 refugees," she said after the visit. "We have let the Rohingya in on humanitarian grounds and I ask the people of this country to help ease their suffering in whatever way they can."

"I ask the international community to put pressure on the Myanmar government to take back their nationals," she continued. "Bangladesh wants to maintain peace and good relations with its neighboring countries, but it cannot accept unjust acts of the Myanmar government. We will do all we can to ease the suffering of the Rohingya refugees."

"Does the Myanmar government not have a conscience?" she asked. "How can they displace hundreds or thousands of people because of a few?"

The prime minister also urged the local government to care for the sick and wounded and to ensure that they receive proper medical care. 

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN's top human rights official, also condemned the Myanmar government's response to the situation in Myanmar in an address to the UN Human Rights Security Council in Geneva on Sept. 11, according to Al Jazeera. He said 270,000 people have fled to Bangladesh to escape the violence. 

"I call on the government to end its current cruel military operation, with accountability for all violations that have occurred, and to reverse the pattern of severe and widespread discrimination against the Rohingya population," he said. 

Zeid also described the situation as "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing."

Sources: Dhaka Tribune, The Guardian (2), Al Jazeera / Featured Image: Hugh Lunnon/Flickr / Embedded Images: BSS/Dhaka TribuneJoe Le Merou/Flickr

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