COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) — The Latest on violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and the flood of ethnic Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh (all times local):
The U.N. children’s agency says up to 400,000 Rohingya have fled recent violence in Myanmar and entered Bangladesh.
UNICEF released the revised tally in a statement Thursday that warned of a “monumental task” ahead in protecting hundreds of thousands of children among the refugees.
The agency is asking for $7.3 million to help protect Rohingya children over the next four months.
The Rohingya insurgent group whose Aug. 25 attacks on police posts triggered weeks of violence and retaliation by Myanmar’s military is denying any links with Islamic jihadist or transnational terrorist groups and says it does not want them involved in its conflict.
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, or ARSA, said in a statement posted Thursday on its Twitter account that it wants countries to help prevent foreign fighters from entering Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
The statement was apparently issued as a response to reports that al-Qaida has been urging Muslim militants around the world to support ARSA or join its struggle.
Myanmar’s government describes ARSA as “extremist terrorists” but has not publicly provided much evidence of their alleged links to outside groups.
ARSA leader Ata Ullah is believed to be have been born in Pakistan as the son of a Muslim man from Rakhine, and educated in Saudi Arabia. ARSA says it is fighting to protect Rohingya Muslims from persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
Bangladesh police say another boat carrying about 40 Rohingya women and children fleeing Myanmar has capsized in the monsoon-swollen Naf River.
Teknaf police chief Mainuddin Khan says at least two people drowned, while others managed to swim to safety on the Bangladeshi shore.
An AP photographer saw one injured baby taken to a hospital in critical condition.
Khan said dozens of boats have capsized since the refugees began fleeing violence in Myanmar on Aug. 25.
Police have recovered a total of 88 bodies from the river that divides the two countries.
India says it is sending aid supplies including food and mosquito nets to help the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who have poured into Bangladesh to escape recent violence in Myanmar.
The foreign ministry said the supplies would be sent in several air lifts starting Thursday and would include rice, pulses, sugar, salt, cooking oil, tea, noodles and biscuits.
Bangladesh has been overwhelmed by the refugee influx, and supplies remain scarce at camps in the border district of Cox’s Bazar.
Other nations and U.N. agencies were also sending and distributing supplies.
Nearly three weeks into a crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of Rohingya flee into Bangladesh, desperation was spreading at refugee camps where aid remains scarce.
The U.N. children’s agency says it needs $7.3 million to help just the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children now at high risk of contracting water-borne diseases.
Scenes of panic erupted Thursday along roadsides where local volunteers were distributing food, water and other supplies haphazardly from parked vehicles. Local officials shouted through bullhorns for volunteers to coordinate their efforts with aid agencies to avoid spreading chaos.
UNICEF’s country representative Edouard Beigbeder said “there are acute shortages of everything, most critically shelter, food and clean water.”