Bangladesh aid charity urges government ban lift

Rohingya Muslims, trying to cross the Naf river into Bangladesh to escape sectarian violence in Burma (12 July) Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled from the violence in Burma to neighbouring Bangladesh

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International charity MSF says tens of thousands of people in Bangladesh will go without critical healthcare if it is not allowed to work near a camp for Burmese Muslim Rohingya refugees.

Some 100,000 people, both Bangladeshis and Burmese Rohingya refugees, depend on MSF's services, the group says.

The charity runs a maternity care centre and supports malnourished children in a district bordering Burma.

The authorities earlier this week ordered three agencies to stop work.

The three aid agencies - Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Action Against Hunger (ACF) and the UK-based agency Muslim Aid UK - were said to be operating beyond their mandate by giving aid to refugees who were in the country illegally.

Background: Burma unrest

What sparked the violence in June?

The rape and murder of a young Buddhist woman in Rakhine in May set off a chain of deadly religious clashes

Why was a state of emergency declared?

To allow the military to take over administrative control of the region

Who are the Rohingyas?

The UN describes them as a persecuted religious and linguistic minority from western Burma. The Burmese government says they are relatively recent migrants from the Indian sub-continent. Bangladesh already hosts several hundred thousand refugees from Burma and says it cannot take any more

MSF's health facility is located close to a Rohingya refugee camp.

"We have dozens of people in our in patient care. Seven women in the maternity unit and one of them is currently labouring. Where do they go it we have to close our activities?" MSF's Christopher Lockyear told the BBC.

The charities were providing healthcare, food and water to thousands of refugees and Bangladeshis in the Cox's Bazaar district in south-eastern Bangladesh.

Thousands have fled communal violence in Burma's Rakhine state since May.

Bangladesh recognises only 29,000 as refugees, whereas the total number of those who have crossed the border in the last three decades is estimated at 300,000.

Mr Lockyear has urged the Bangladeshi government to withdraw its decision to ban their services from Cox's Bazaar district.

"We would like to be able to open a dialogue and [see] how we can resolve the situation," Mr Lockyear said.

The MSF runs two other programmes in different parts of Bangladesh, which have been running without any problem.

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