Bangladesh on Thursday announced it would build one of the world’s biggest refugee camps to house all the 800,000-plus Rohingya Muslims who have sought asylum from violence in Myanmar.
Rohingya trapped inside Myanmar say thousands are starving and in need of medical care in northern Rakhine State, where a half-million majority Muslim ethnic Rohingya have fled an army crackdown and communal violence.
Abdulla Mehman, who works for an aid agency in the Buthitaung Township, said more than 2,000 people in his village, Kwan Dine, had run out of food, with many others facing shortages.
“We are not allowed to move about freely, and people are struggling to survive,” Mehman told Al Jazeera by telephone on Tuesday.
Rohingya families in at least four other villages in northern Rakhine – Kin Taung, Bura Shida Para, Kyar Gaung Taung, and Sein Daung – also reported urgent food shortages and accused soldiers and Buddhist neighbours of intimidation, looting, extortion and cattle theft.
The reports are difficult to verify independently, as the region has been under an army lockdown, but the witness accounts are in line with what Rohingya refugees in neighbouring Bangladesh have been telling Al Jazeera.
About a half-million Rohingya are thought to remain in Myanmar’s westernmost state
‘People will die’
Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya activist based in Germany, said northern Rakhine was “like a prison” and that thousands of Rohingya were continuing to flee their homes after the army intensified a campaign of intimidation and arson this week.