United Nations fears "further exodus" of Muslim Rohingya into Bangladesh


The government is set to launch a massive vaccination campaign for the Rohingya refugees, to protect over half a million victims of forced exodus from onslaughts of cholera after administering their kids with polio vaccines, officials said on Wednesday.

The lack of humanitarian access granted by Myanmar's government to Rakhine State, where more than half a million Rohingya Muslims have fled violence, is "unacceptable", the United Nations said on Friday.

The home minister said the government would nevertheless cooperate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other relevant worldwide agencies in line with their humanitarian policies to give aid to the ethnic group.

Earlier, Bangladesh and Myanmar had agreed to form a joint working group, which will draw up plans for the repatriation process of Rohingya refugees.

Addressing a joint press event, Tusk said the two sides wanted de-escalation of tensions and full adherence to worldwide obligations in Myanmar and access of people to humanitarian aid.

An estimated 2,000 refugees are still arriving in Bangladesh every day, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

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An EU delegation also joined the UN's whistle-stop trip to Rakhine, which took in Maungdaw and Rathedaung areas, explaining in a statement "this was not an investigation mission and could not be in the circumstances". "The violence must stop", it said, calling for unimpeded humanitarian and media access.

The plight of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority who are reviled and denied citizenship in Myanmar, has roused anger across the Islamic world, with protests held in Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Its insistence on verifying the Rohingya could prove a "stumbling block" to repatriation, according to Shahab Enam Khan, an global relations specialist at Jahangirnagar University.

The existing population of Rohingyas in Bangladesh had led to tensions with the local populations.

Mohammad Amin, who arrived in Bangladesh on Sunday with two neighbours in a rickety boat, said he would consider returning if their safety was guaranteed. "We want them to take back their citizens to their own homeland", he said. "The problem has been created in Myanmar and solution has to be found in Myanmar".

"If they accept us as Rohingya, and said they would not harm us, we would return", he told AFP at a refugee registration booth.