COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh – At least 6,700 Rohingya Muslims were killed over the course of a month during Burmese crackdown on the minority, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres group.
“We met and spoke with survivors of violence in Myanmar [Burma], who are now sheltering in overcrowded and unsanitary camps in Bangladesh,” MSF medical director Sidney Wong said in a statement published Thursday.
“What we uncovered was staggering, both in terms of the numbers of people who reported a family member died as a result of violence, and the horrific ways in which they said they were killed or severely injured.
“The peak in deaths coincides with the launch of the latest ‘clearance operations’ by Myanmar [Burmese] security forces in the last week of August,” he added.
The shocking figure of the number of deaths was released Thursday by MSF, based on its survey of refugee camps in Bangladesh between 25 August and 24 September.
The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Burma’s Rakhine state thought to number about 1 million people.
Burma does not recognize them as citizens or as one of the 135 recognized ethnic groups living in the country.
The MSF report also warned that more than half the children under the age of five were reportedly shot by Burmese forces, putting deaths of children under 5 years old at 730.
The group said 59% were shot, 15% burnt to death in their homes, 7% beaten to death, and 2% killed in landmine blasts.
The figure released is only an initial estimate, which could be as high as 13,759, including at least 1,000 children under the age of 5, according to the MSF news release.
“The numbers of deaths are likely to be an underestimation as we have not surveyed all refugee settlements in Bangladesh and because the surveys don’t account for the families who never made it out of Myanmar,” Wong said.
“We heard reports of entire families who perished after they were locked inside their homes, while they were set alight.”