66,000 Rohingyas enter Bangladesh so far

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 01:00, Jan 17,2017


UN special rapporteur on Myanmar Yanghee Lee, right, meets a Buddhist monk at a monastery in Sittwe on Monday. Lee, the UN’s rights envoy for Myanmar, arrived in troubled Rakhine state on January 13 for a trip north to probe allegations of horrific abuse of Rohingya Muslims by security forces. — AFP photo

More minority Muslims of Rakhine state fled violence and abuses to bordering Cox’s Bazar, increasing the number of arrivals of Myanmar nationals to estimated 66,000 in last three months.
An estimated 66,000 people crossed the Myanmar border into Bangladesh, as of January 12, since last October, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a tweet on Monday.
‘Many new arrivals’ [were there], Danish ambassador Mikael H Winther said in a tweet on Monday after a visit to the area.
Swedish ambassador Johan Frisell and Norwegian ambassador Sidsel Bleken were also in the team of Nordic diplomats in Cox’s Bazar.
The victims described to the ambassadors the violence and abuses that forced them to flee to Bangladesh.
The ambassadors also talked to Cox’s Bazar deputy commissioner Md Ali Hossain about the situation involving Rohingyas in the district.
UNOCHA said on Monday that thousands of people, mostly Muslims, ‘are [also] believed to remain displaced inside Rakhine’ as a result of alleged attacks and subsequent security operations.
They were, it said, in need of food, shelter, cooking utensils, blankets and medical kits. The harvest was severely disrupted and Children were not in schools.
In Bangladesh, the OCHA said, the number of people crossing the border reportedly decreased compared to previous weeks, while movements toward makeshift camps, adjacent areas and city areas [in Bangladesh] increased.
On January 9, the UNOCHA said that estimated 65,000 Rohingyas arrived in Bangladesh from Myanmar since October 9.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is set to discuss, in a meeting of the foreign ministers of the member countries on Thursday, the persecution against the minority Muslims in Rakhine, government officials told New Age.
It will be a special meeting of the Council of the Foreign Minister of the OIC at the request of Malaysia, a member of ASEAN, in which Myanmar is a member.
The OIC, according to its charter, is mandated to work to protect and promote rights and interests of minority Muslims in non-member countries.
State minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam is expected to present Bangladesh’s position in the OIC meeting.
Bangladesh is likely to request the OIC member countries to use their good office to mount pressure on the Myanmar government to stop marsinalisation of Muslims in Rakhine state, to restore their citizenship and to uphold their political, social and economic rights, officials said.
The Bangladesh side will also reiterate call for bringing normalcy by creating a congenial atmosphere for ensuring sustainable repatriation of Myanmar nationals to home.
Tens of thousands of Rohingyas also fled atrocities in Rakhine state to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India over the years. About 33,000 registered refugees of Myanmar and 3,00,000 undocumented nationals of that country have been staying in Bangladesh for years.
Myanmar passed a law, in 1982, denying citizenship of minority Muslims, who have been living in Rakhine state for generations, making them stateless.

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