10,000 Rohingya from Myanmar Have Landed in Bangladesh: U.N.

2016-11-30
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Bangladeshi Muslims in Dhaka protest against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Nov. 25, 2016.
Bangladeshi Muslims in Dhaka protest against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Nov. 25, 2016.
AFP

More than 10,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar have crossed the border into Bangladesh to flee violence that has escalated over the past two months, a United Nations official and a Rohingya community leader said Wednesday.

Bangladeshi authorities said they were now allowing some vulnerable refugees into the country on a humanitarian basis. Earlier, officials had stated that they were sealing the southeastern border with Myanmar and pushing back hundreds of people trying to cross over, despite reports of killings and the burning of Rohingya homes during a Burmese government crackdown in neighboring Rakhine state.

The exodus into Bangladesh from Rakhine is the largest since 2012, when thousands from Myanmar’s Rohingya minority escaped violence in the state between Muslims and members of the country’s Buddhist majority.

“Based on reports by various humanitarian agencies, we estimate that there could be 10,000 new arrivals in recent weeks,” Vivian Tan, a spokeswoman in for the U.N. refugee agency’s office in Bangkok, said Wednesday.

“The situation is fast changing and the actual number could be much higher.”

Hafez Ahmed, a leader of unregistered Rohingya in Kutupalang Camp in Cox’s Bazar, a district in southeastern Bangladesh, told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service, the number of refugees could be double the figure given by the U.N.

About 10,000 of the new influx of Rohingya were at his camp while others were spread out elsewhere in the southeast.

Another Rohingya leader told Voice of America (VOA), a sister entity of RFA, that many wanted to return to their old way of life.

“The Rohingya have been seeking temporary shelter in Bangladesh only to save their lives from a genocide-like situation in Myanmar. For most of us, life as refugees is very hard in Bangladesh. Arakan (Rakhine), where our Rohingya community has lived for centuries, is our ancestral homeland. We want to go back to Arakan,” said Mohammad Shaker, a Rohingya leader in Cox’s Bazar.

Current crisis

Since a Myanmar military crackdown began in Rakhine state in early October, Rohingyas were entering the country through remote, inaccessible border points, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmud Ali told reporters last week.

“And in some instances we have some very vulnerable cases that we could not ignore from the humanitarian point of view. We allowed them to enter and provided them food and treatment,” he said.

Commenting on the estimate from the U.N., Shahriar Alam, a state minister in Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said officials could not confirm how many new Rohingya refugees had arrived from Rakhine in recent weeks.

But, he told BenarNews, “we cannot say that the U.N.’s estimated number is not correct.”

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said Bangladesh wanted the Rohingyas to return to their homes in Rakhine.

“We shall try to host these people as long as possible. Then we shall start a dialogue with Myanmar so that they can return to their home. We hope Myanmar will take them back, eventually,” Kamal said.

Last week, Bangladeshi officials complained to the Myanmar ambassador about the violence in Rakhine, which in turn has led to street protests by Muslims in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand against Myanmar’s alleged persecution of Rohingya.

Long-standing problem

The targets of large-scale ethnic violence since 1978, Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh and other countries. As many as 300,000 to 500,000 Rohingya are in Bangladesh, according to government estimates.

“After the Rakhine Buddhists burned my house, with my two children and wife I fled to Bangladesh four years ago. I do odd day-wage jobs to support my family. Often I go without a job. I live in a ramshackle shack and I think I can never escape this life of poverty here,” Mohammad Ismail, a 38-year-old Rohingya, told VOA.

“I had my own farmland, I also owned a shop and I was quite well-off. If the situation there changes I want to return to Arakan.”

The government has denied accusations that soldiers committed extrajudicial killings, rape, and arson in Rohingya communities since the lockdown began. Security forces have arrested more than 400 people and killed nearly 70 others since the crackdown began, state media reported.

Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

Comments (3)
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steven

from NY

Wipe out 3 police stations and killed 17 police officers by terrorists and terrorist sympathizers . those terrorist sympathizers need tougher action than that.

Dec 03, 2016 06:48 AM

richard147

from San Francisco

It is undeniable truth the so-called Rohinga aka Bengali originated from the near-at-hand Bengali land of over population and grinding poverty .
They only bring chaos and destruction to the host country like Burma... They are parasites to any civilized societies.
Bengali (Rohingyas) Muslims do not respect the law of the host country Burma and insult Burmese culture.
They also demand independent islamic state in this country .
Bangladesh is responsible for Bengali ( Rohingyas) issues. Now they brand themselves as Bengali(Rohingya) terrorists.

Dec 02, 2016 05:52 PM

Albert N

from Dhaka

The Rohingya have been known to burn their own villages. The interviews conducted with refugees are largely fake and exaggerated. Much of the news generated also use old photos from unrelated events. None of the news portals report facts, just fictional accounts. I don't believe any of this.

Nov 30, 2016 06:50 PM

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