The entry of minority Rohingyas of Myanmar in small groups into Bangladesh has once again become visible as tension mounts in Rakhine State amid clashes between Myanmar military and Buddhist armed groups, triggering fear of a new spate of influx.
Nine of two Rohingya families arrived at two camps on Wednesday while scores others of the community crossed over the border in the last several weeks, officials have said.
Some 80 to 100 people of 20 families are waiting at a shore near Maungdaw township of Rakhine state for crossing the bordering River Naf to enter Bangladesh, according to new entrants.
‘Seven members of a Rohingya family arrived at Kutupalong Refugees camp from Buthidaung township of Rakhine state on Wednesday,’ Mohammad Rezaul Karim, camp in-charge, Kutupalong Refugee camp under Ukhiya Police Station of Cox’s Bazar, told New Age.
They have been sent to Gungdum UNHCR transit camp under Nikkongchari upazila of Bandarban hill district.
Another two new entrants of a family were sent to Thainkhali Refugees Camp of Ukhiya Police Station on Wednesday, officials said.
These nine entrants came from village Sindhi Farang of Buthidaung Township and they entered into Bangladesh through Sahaporirdwip crossing the river in a small wooden fishing boat, officials said.
The new developments are due to a recent surge in violence between rebels from Arakan Army seeking greater autonomy for ethnic Rakhine group, who are Buddhists, and security forces. The violence left thousands of people displaced.
This has added to complexity and danger in an area already torn apart by deep ethnic and religious enmity, which saw hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims forced over the border by a bloody army crackdown in 2017.
Abdur Rahim, a school teacher of Bauthidaung area, and Rohingya community leader Mohammad Ilias told New Age that minority Rohingya Muslim community living in different places of Rakhine got panicked due to fresh armed clashes between Myanmar military and Arakan Army.
At least 13 Myanmar police have reportedly been killed and nine injured in Arakan Army attacks in Rakhine recently.
Bangladesh government on Thursday assessed the possibilities of starting repatriation of Rohingya people living here.
‘It is highly unlikely to begin repatriation soon as UNHCR officials have fervently opposed the idea citing lack of congenial atmosphere in Rakhine State,’ a senior Bangladesh official told New Age after a meeting of National Taskforce on Repatriation of Rohingya. Foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque presided over the meeting at the foreign ministry.
Officials said they came to know from various sources that the Myanmar authorities prevented the UN teams, which were working on preparations of Rohingya repatriation, from visiting Rakhine State for several weeks but the UN was maintaining silence about the situation.
Officials concerned informed the meeting about continued influx of Rohingya people and Border Guard Bangladesh was asked to remain vigilant along the borders with Myanmar.
When asked about the outcome of the meeting, refugee, relief and repatriation commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam told New Age on Thursday that they took stock of preparations for beginning repatriation of Rohingya people.
More than 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh after fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide, beginning from August 25, 2017.
The ongoing Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to about 11,16,000, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.
But none of over 11 million Rohingya people returned to Rakhine in over one year of signing of agreements between the two countries proving the commitments made by the Myanmar authorities hollow on starting the process with creating conducive atmosphere.
UN resident coordinator in Myanmar Knut Ostby on Wednesday expressed concern over the situation in the western state of Rakhine as the government of Aung San Suu Kyi called the Military to ‘crush’ the rebels.
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