U.S. State Department Expresses Concern Over Plight of Rohingya Refugees

The U.S. State Department has expressed concern over the plight of the tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have crossed into Bangladesh since fresh violence erupted in neighboring Burma late last month.

In a statement on September 9, spokesperson Heather Nauert said: We are very concerned by the United Nations announcement on September 8 that an estimated 270,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh … following allegations of serious human rights abuses in Burma’s Rakhine State, including violent attacks and mass burnings of villages.”

The statement said that the United States continues to coordinate closely with its partners, including several UN agencies, to provide emergency assistance to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Washington has provided nearly $63 million in humanitarian assistance for vulnerable communities displaced in and from Burma throughout the region, the statement added.It also welcomed Bangladesh’s “generosity in responding to this humanitarian crisis.”

The United Nations said on September 9 that the number of Rohingya refugees, who arrived in Bangladesh since August 25 now stands at around 290,000.

Most of the Rohingya are arriving by foot or boat across Bangladesh’s 278 kilometer border with Burma (also known as Myanmar).

Fights are erupting over food and water at the camps and makeshift settlements in Bangladesh as the refugees are becoming desperate for dwindling supplies of basic resources.

Refugees accuse Burmese security forces and Buddhist mobs of burning their villages. The government says the security forces are responding to an attack last month on police posts by Rohingya militants.

Meanwhile, Rohingya militants declared a month-long unilateral ceasefire, starting on September 10, to enable aid groups to help ease the humanitarian crisis in the Rakhine State.

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) said in a statement that it “strongly encourages all concerned humanitarian actors resume their humanitarian assistance to all victims of the humanitarian crisis, irrespective of ethnic or religious background during the cease-fire period."

The impact of the move is unclear.

The latest violence in the decades-old conflict began when the military launched a counteroffensive following attacks by ARSA insurgents on 30 police posts and an army base on August 25.

With reporting by Reuters