A number of families from Mro and Marma communities in Thanchi and Alikadam of Bandarban have migrated to Myanmar in the face of food crisis.
The families say they used to live on jhum cultivation, cutting bamboo and cane in forests, but for past few years yield from jhum cultivation was not enough and cutting bamboo and canes have been banned and even if they cut those there are hardly any buyers. They fear food crisis this year and opt for migrating to neighbouring Myanmar.
A spot visit by a New Age correspondent to remote Likri of Thanchi, a 48-hour journey on boat, in the first week of March found a number of families gathered there for heading for Myanmar.
Thui Hla Ching and Hla Mong Ching, who came from Bara Modak, said they used to live on jhum cultivation but now the yield do not meet their minimum demand. As there are no other alternatives in the deep forest, they opt for migrating to Myanmar.
Showe Mong Marma of Usathowai para near Bara Modak said that for past six months they had been barred from cutting bamboos and canes. It became tough for him to arrange a meal a day for his family members.
But a number of people who are migrating to Myanmar came up with different reasons for the migration.
On condition of anonymity, they said some relatives of each of the families migrating to Myanmar had migrated to Myanmar two to three years ago. The local administration in Arakan state of Myanmar had provided each of the families from Bangladesh five acres of land, bulls for plowing and cash amount for cultivation.
These families said a group of middlemen help the families to migrate to Myanmar and charge Tk 1,000 per person for ferrying them to Myanmar.
The local government representatives in Thanchi admitted the incidents of a mass migration. Remakri union council member Mong Chaw Mro said 29 Mro families of his locality have been migrated to Myanmar in the past three years. As the villages secluded, in all cases, they came to know after the families left Thanchi.
In March, a Mro man was killed and five others of a family were injured in a land mine explosion while crossing the border in Alikadam.
Remakri union council chairman Muishaithui Marma said that in the past three years around 300 families of Marma and Mro migrated to Myanmar and none of them returned.
He said repeated meetings were being held to aware people against such migration with the village chiefs and local government representatives but the migration continues.
Border Guard Bangladesh’s Bandarban sector commander colonel Iqbal Hossain said he heard of news of such migration from remote villages from the local government representatives. He said the border outposts have been instructed to prevent such migration and the high officials have also been informed.
The issue also came up in the monthly meeting of the district administration. Bandarban deputy commissioner Aslam Hossain said all necessary measures including increasing social security of the ethnic minority people have been taken to stop their migration to Myanmar.
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