Rohingya refugee surge hits Bangladesh a

The number of Rohingya refugees crossing from Myanmar into Bangladesh has surged, the UN says, with more than 35,000 new arrivals identified in the last 24 hours, BBC report.

More than 123,000 Rohingya are now said to have fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state since 25 August.

The conflict was triggered by an attack by Rohingya militants on police posts.

This sparked a military counter-offensive that has forced a flood of Rohingya civilians from their villages.

The Rohingya are a stateless mostly Muslim ethnic minority who have faced persecution in Myanmar (also called Burma). Many of those who have fled describe troops and Rakhine Buddhist mobs razing their villages and killing civilians in a campaign to drive them out.

The military says it is fighting against Rohingya militants who are attacking civilians.

Independently verifying the situation on the ground is very difficult because access is restricted, but since the police-post attacks Rohingya families have been streaming north into Bangladesh.

The UN says it is not clear exactly when the latest refugees arrived, but said the number of new arrivals needing food and shelter had surged dramatically.

Two main UN camps for them are now full, so people are sleeping outside or building shelters on open ground and along roads, a spokeswoman said. Many are in dire need of food and water.

“We fled to a hill when the shooting started. The army set fire to houses,” Salim Ullah, a farmer from Myanmar’s Kyauk Pan Du village, told Reuters news agency as he arrived in Bangladesh.

“We got on the boat at daybreak. I came with my mother, wife and two children. There were 40 people on a boat, including 25 women.”

The UN’s migration agency has launched an appeal for $18m (13.9m) to provide “life-saving services” for the new arrivals.