Aid agencies must step up operations “massively” to cope with an influx of 400,000 refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar, a senior UN official has said.
Muslim Rohingya have been fleeing to Bangladesh since 25 August after insurgent attacks around 30 police posts and an army camp in Myanmar.
Those attacks led to a sweeping military counter-offensive by Myanmar security forces.
George William Okoth-Obbo, assistant high commissioner for operations at the UN refugee agency, said: “We will all have to ramp up our response massively, from food to shelter.”
The UN has said all options for housing the refugees remain open, including moving them to an island as proposed by Bangladesh authorities.
It comes as Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi cancelled plans to attend the UN General Assembly in the face of strong international criticism for her lack of action over the violence against Rohingya Muslims.
Presidential office spokesman Zaw Htay said Ms Suu Kyi will miss the assembly, which opened on Tuesday and runs until 25 September, to address domestic security issues.
He added that President Htin Kyaw is in hospital, so the vice president will attend instead.
“The first reason (Suu Kyi cannot attend) is because of the Rakhine terrorist attacks,” he said.
“The state counsellor is focusing to calm the situation in Rakhine state. There are circumstances.
“The second reason is, there are people inciting riots in some areas. We are trying to take care of the security issue in many other places.
“The third is that we are hearing that there will be terrorist attacks and we are trying to address this issue.”
Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands of homes burned, mostly those belonging to Rohingya, in a wave of violence since the insurgent attacks last month.
The government blames Rohingya Muslims for the attacks, but doubts have been raised over claims that Rohingya set fire to their own homes.
Those fleeing the violence have claimed Myanmar soldiers opened fire indiscriminately, burned their homes and warned them to leave or die in so-called government “clearance operations”.
Ms Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace prize laureate, has come under intense criticism for not speaking out over the violence.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein has said the Rohingya are victims of what “seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
(c) Sky News 2017: Aid agencies must step up ‘massively’ to help Rohingya Muslims – UN