270,000 Rohingya in Myanmar Exodus

270,000 Rohingya in Myanmar Exodus

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) -- The U.N. said Friday that an "alarming number" of 270,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled violence in Myanmar by crossing into Bangladesh in the last two weeks.

The new number confirmed Friday by U.N. Refugee Agency spokeswoman Vivian Tan is much higher than the 164,000 it had previously estimated had arrived since Aug. 25. She said the number rose quickly in a single day mainly because aid agencies had spotted some new settlements in the area. She said many areas where the refugees are located are difficult to access.

"This is an alarming number," Tan said. "The existing camps are full to the capacity. There is a lot of pressure on relief agencies to accommodate the rising numbers."

Her agency said in a statement, that Rohingya "are now squatting in makeshift shelters that have mushroomed along the road and on available land."

International agencies have released $8 million in emergency aid to help the migrants.

The International Organization for Migration said an increasing number of Rohingya were arriving by boat, with 300 boats reaching the Bangladesh town of Cox's Bazar from Myanmar on Wednesday alone.

"Sea routes are particularly dangerous this time of year, when boats are known to frequently capsize in rough seas," the IOM said in a statement.

The exodus from Myanmar's northern Rakhine state began Aug. 25 after Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts. The military responded with what it called "clearance operations" to root out any fighters hiding in villages of Rakhine state.

Journalists have reported seeing village homes burning as recently as Thursday in the region of Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

It's not known how many Rohingya remain in Rakhine state. Previously the population had been thought to be roughly 1 million.

(KA)