IOM: Over 600,000 Rohingya Refugees Have Fled Violence In Myanmar Since Late August

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GENEVA, Nov 11  -- The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said Friday that since August 25 of this year an estimated 613,000 Rohingya refugees had arrived in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar, fleeing violence in Myanmar, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

IOM said that the total Rohingya refugee population in the area was now 826,000.

IOM spokesperson Joel Millman told a press briefing here Friday that the makeshift sites where the Rohingyas had settled were desperately overcrowded and located on inhospitable, hilly terrain with insufficient drainage and little or no road access.

The few roads that existed were impossibly congested, making it extremely difficult to reach refugees with the support and services they needed, he said.

According to him, in the Kutupalong -- Balukhali Expansion Site, which was currently home to an estimated 423,000 refugees, and where IOM was responsible for coordinating site management, many areas were extremely difficult to access.

"People hiked for hours under the scorching sun, often carrying heavy loads from distribution points, to reach their shelters. Steep hills and dangerous paths meant that children, the elderly and people with disabilities were often unable to move around the site," he said.

In October, IOM had built some 850 meters of road into Balukhali to enable humanitarian agencies to deliver lifesaving assistance to at least 50,000 refugees. IOM said it was currently working on six other road projects.

-- BERNAMA