Home Myanmar Rohingya Flee Myanmar’s Maungdaw Amid Escalating Conflict

Rohingya Flee Myanmar’s Maungdaw Amid Escalating Conflict

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Armed drones and explosions rock Myanmar’s Maungdaw town as conflict intensifies between the Arakan Army (AA) rebels and military junta forces. Rohingya civilians find themselves caught in the crossfire, with many fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Abdur, a 45-year-old Rohingya farmer, recounts a harrowing experience. “I spotted an armed drone hovering above our mosque. Within seconds, an explosion knocked me unconscious,” he says, now recovering in a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Conflict escalates in Maungdaw

The AA laid siege to Maungdaw last month, warning its 70,000 Rohingya residents to evacuate. The junta continues to battle the AA, labeling them “terrorists.” This conflict has trapped tens of thousands of Rohingya in Maungdaw, with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk stating, “There is nowhere to flee.”
Despite Bangladesh’s stance against accepting more refugees, dozens of Rohingya have found their way into Cox’s Bazar camps. These camps already house around one million displaced Rohingya who fled previous crackdowns in Myanmar.

Inside Maungdaw, residents describe a shifting frontline and dire living conditions. “Many Rohingya are feeling hunger because they do not have enough food,” reports a local resident, who remains anonymous for safety reasons. “If anyone goes outside his home, his life is not guaranteed.”

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International agencies under attack

The situation has worsened with the looting and burning of a UN World Food Programme warehouse in Maungdaw, destroying supplies that could have sustained 64,000 people for a month. Additionally, Médecins Sans Frontières has suspended its essential services in parts of Rakhine state, including Maungdaw.

This latest crisis compounds the long-standing persecution of Rohingya in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. In 2017, hundreds of thousands fled a military crackdown accused of ethnic cleansing.

As the conflict escalates, the future looks uncertain for Maungdaw’s Rohingya population. With limited access to food, healthcare, and safety, many face the difficult choice between remaining in danger or risking the perilous journey to already overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh.

With inouts from Reuters