At least 18,500 Rohingya Muslims, many sick and some with bullet wounds, have fled into Bangladesh over the past six days amid renewed fighting in western Myanmar.
The figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Wednesday came amid increasing concerns by the international community, with foreign governments and organisations worried that Rohingya villages are being subject to collective punishment after an armed group on August 5 attacked police posts and an army base in Rakhine state.
The attacks – in which at least 110 were killed – were claimed by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a group which was formed by Rohingya living in Saudi Arabia after a bout of serious communal violence in 2012, according to the International Crisis Group.
In the days following the attacks, the Myanmar army has burned down areas of Rakhine state and fired on civilians, according to rights groups and witnesses. Scores have reportedly been killed.
While Rohingya Muslims have largely fled to Bangladesh, Rakhine Buddhists have mostly sought sanctuary in towns and monasteries to the south and east of the fighting.
“As of last night, 18,500 people have come across” from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, Chris Lom, the IOM’s Asia-Pacific spokesman told.