Myanmar death toll neared 14000 as 647000 Rohingya flee

Rohingya Muslims who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh wait to receive aid during its distribution near Balukhali refugee camp Bangladesh. International aid group Doctors Without Borders said Thursday Dec. 1

Based on interviews at refugee settlements in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar region, MSF estimated at least 6,700 Rohingya - including some 730 children below the age of five - were killed by violence between August 25 and September 24.

There was no immediate response to the MSF report from Myanmar authorities.

The crackdown, which followed raids against Myanmar police and security posts by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) insurgents on August 25, pushed 655,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim minority to seek shelter in neighboring Bangladesh during the following months, according to the latest estimates published by the United Nations on Thursday.

After an internal investigation, the Myanmar army in November exonerated itself of any blame regarding the crisis.

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Among the dead children below the age of five, MSF said more than 59 percent were reportedly shot, 15 percent burnt to death, 7 percent beaten to death and 2 percent were killed by landmine blasts.

It denied killing any civilians, burning their villages, raping women and girls, and stealing possessions. The group says the deaths occurred during a one-month period starting in late August.

The figure of 6,700 people who were killed through violence represents "the most conservative" estimate, MSF said. The military operation, which many including United Nations calls as an "ethnic cleansing" led to a mass displacement of Rohingya civilians into Bangladesh.

Though more than a million ethnic Rohingya Muslims have lived in the country for generations, they were stripped of their citizenship, denied nearly all rights and labelled stateless. The government does not use the term Rohingya but calls them Bengali Muslims.

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"Currently people are still fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh and those who do manage to cross the border still report being subject to violence in recent weeks", Wong said.

"We met and spoke with survivors of violence in Myanmar, who are now sheltering in overcrowded and unsanitary camps in Bangladesh", MSF's medical director Sidney Wong said.

The group also warned there was still very limited access for aid groups into Rakhine state. It is not a defensive or pre-emptive move against a radical faction, ARSA, within the Rohingya community, but a decisive move in a decades-long series of attacks and constant persecution, aimed to wipe out an entire ethnic minority population in Myanmar.

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