730 Rohingya Children Among Thousands Burned Alive, Shot, Beaten to Death in 30 Days of Horror

(Photo: REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossai)A Rohingya refugee woman cries as she holds her 40-day-old son, who died as a boat capsized in the shore of Shah Porir Dwip, in Teknaf, Bangladesh, September 14, 2017.

At least 730 children were among the 6,700 Rohingya refugees who were burned, shot, or beaten to death in the space of a single month earlier this year, a major humanitarian aid group revealed.

"We met and spoke with survivors of violence in Myanmar, who are now sheltering in overcrowded and unsanitary camps in Bangladesh. 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," said Dr. Sidney Wong, medical director with Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders, earlier this week.

"The peak in deaths coincides with the launch of the latest 'clearance operations' by Myanmar security forces in the last week of August."

The report, based on surveys conducted in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, found that at least 6,700 people were killed between Aug. 25 and Sept. 24, which was when waves of Rohingya — a majority-Muslim ethnic group — started fleeing attacks by security forces in Myanmar.

MSF said that at least 730 children under the age of 5 were among those killed in the violence at the time.

"Overall, gunshots were the cause of death in 69 percent of the violence-related deaths, followed by being burnt to death in their houses (9 percent) and beaten to death (5 percent)," the survey results showed.

"Among children below the age of 5 years, more than 59 percent killed during that period were reportedly shot, 15 percent burnt to death in their home, 7 percent beaten to death and 2 percent died due to landmine blasts."

Wong noted that it is likely the number of deaths are a conservative estimation, as the surveys cannot account for entire families that never made it out alive from Myanmar.

"We heard reports of entire families who perished after they were locked inside their homes, while they were set alight," she stated.

Over 620,000 Rohingya — who are not recognized as citizens by the Myanmar government — have fled to Bangladesh since August as they continued to face torture, killings and rape. The United Nations and world governments argue that the violence against them appears to be ethnic cleansing.

Human rights groups say the Myanmar army has burned down the ethnic minority's homes, driving them out of the country. 

Wong noted that people who are currently fleeing Myanmar are still subjected to violence, though killings have gone down in recent months.

"With very few independent aid groups able to access Maungdaw district in Rakhine, we fear for the fate of Rohingya people who are still there," she said.

Samaritan's Purse, one of the largest evangelical humanitarian aid organizations in the world, which is helping with medical efforts in Bangladesh, told The Christian Post earlier this month that the aid workers have heard many tragic stories from survivors, including teenage children going missing.

Ken Isaacs, vice president of programs and government relations at Samaritan's Purse, told CP that the medical team has treated many patients with trauma from gunshots and landmines.

As for how the minority group is responding to the help from Christian aid workers, he said that the people "are very grateful, they don't seem to have a problem."

"I think that there is always an openness for the Gospel. I think that in closed populations, you need to be respectful, and you don't want to be alienating," Isaacs said at the time.

"But people respond to love and they feel love, and if that love is a genuine love, a Christ-driven love, they will see it, and they will have questions. These things open doors that no man can shut."

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