YANGON – At least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in attacks during the first month of a military crackdown in Myanmar in late August, Médecins Sans Frontières estimates.
The aid group interviewed several thousand Rohingya refugees in four camps in Bangladesh in late October and early November, asking how many members of their families had died and how, both before and after the violence began.
The survey showed that a minimum of 6,700 Rohingya — including 730 children — were killed by shooting and other violence between August 25 and September 24, and that at least 2,700 others died from disease and malnutrition, according to MSF.
The aid agency’s death toll far surpasses estimates from Myanmar’s government, which has put the figure in the hundreds.
More than half a million Rohingya have fled northwestern Myanmar into Bangladesh since a concerted military crackdown began in late August, following militant attacks on a border post. Both the UN and the US have described the campaign as ethnic cleansing.
“We met and spoke with survivors of violence in Myanmar, who are now sheltering in overcrowded and unsanitary camps in Bangladesh,” Sidney Wong, MSF’s medical director, said in a statement. MSF also is known as Doctors Without Borders.
“What we uncovered was staggering, both in terms of the numbers of people who reported a family member died as a result of violence and the horrific ways in which they said they were killed or severely injured.”
He said that the “peak in deaths coincides with the launch of the latest ‘clearance operations’ by Myanmar security forces in the last week of August.”
Zaw Htay, a Myanmar government spokesman, did not respond to a request for comment on the MSF report.
The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state thought to number about 1 million people. Myanmar does not recognize them as citizens or as one of the 135 recognized ethnic groups living in the country. – CNN