“Growing abuse” of refugees from Myanmar’s Rakhine state: UNHCR

10 Jun 2014

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A young Rohingya boy bathes at the Sin Tet Maw IDP camp in Pauktaw Township, western Rakhine State. David Swanson/IRIN

The UN Refugee Agency says it’s concerned about the growing abuse of refugees from Myanmar’s Rakhine state who are arriving by boat in other countries.

Two years after intercommunal violence erupted in the state, thousands of people are still fleeing across the Bay of Bengal.

More than 86,000 have left since June 2012.

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards says the majority are Rohingya, reports of abuse and exploitation are increasing.

“Some of those who have reached Thailand speak of being taken to smugglers’ camps in the jungles or hills near the Thailand-Malaysia border. There they were kept for months in overcrowded camps and even cages until their families could pay for their release. They recount daily beatings and that some people died. In the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia, there have been increased reports of smuggling and trafficking from Thailand of people from Myanmar. Reliable reports indicate these groups frequently face abuse, ill-treatment, exploitation and extortion by smuggling gangs.”  (32″)

UNHCR continues to urge countries throughout the region to give the Rohingya temporary right to stay until the situation stabilizes enough in Rahkine state for them to return.

It’s also appealing for protection against arbitrary detention, respect for family unity, guarantees of shelter, as well as access to services and lawful work opportunities.

Yvette Morris United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1’35”