Dhaka, June 15 (bdnews24.com)—The United Nations has urged Bangladesh to allow Rohingya refugees fleeing violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Mynmar.
Tens of thousands of refugees have fled Burma's province of Rakhine by boat. About 30,000 are already in camps in Bangladesh.
As many as 1,500 refugees have been turned back in recent days.
The UN's Geneva-based refugee agency, the UNHCR, says women and children have been left adrift on boats in the river Naf without food or care.
"There are now a number of boats drifting in the mouth of the Naf River with desperate people onboard in need of water, food and medical care," the UNHCR said in a statement.
"It is vital that these people are allowed access to a safe haven and shelter."
The Bangladesh government has continued to refuse to allow the refugees inside its territory.
On Thursday, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni in Parliament snubbed continuous calls from international rights groups and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to open the border to people seeking refuge from sectarian violence in Myanmar.
On Friday, she said the government did not allow Rohingya refugees to cross into Bangladesh on the grounds of national interest and that its stance is 'logical and lawful'. She told the international community to stand by the Rohingyas through Myanmar.
Bangladesh is currently providing assistance to 25,000 Rohingya refugees while there are about 5,00,000 Rohingyas staying illegally in the country, according to the government statistics.
Anticipating massive influx of refugees fleeing raging violence between Buddhists and Muslims in western Myanmar, Bangladesh has ordered its border guards, coast guards and local administration to heighten their vigilance along its border with Myanmar.
As the Bangladeshi border guards reportedly blocked hundreds of Rohingyas, who attempted to enter Bangladesh over the last three days, New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch urged Bangladesh to change its position on humanitarian grounds.
But since Tuesday, the Foreign Minister has been saying that "It is not in our best interests that new refugees be allowed entry from Myanmar."