Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday urged the United States to put pressure on Myanmar to stop pushing-in Rohingyas to Bangladesh as thousands of the ethnic minority people continued pouring into the country fleeing persecution in their home land.
Bangladesh also urged the international community to persuade Myanmar authorities to implement the recommendations of Kofi Anan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State for stabilisation of the Rakhine State in order to ensure safe and sustainable return of forcibly displaced people and Rohingya refugees of Myanmar.
UN Migration Agency, International Organization for Migration estimated that at least 18,500 Rohingyas had crossed into Bangladesh since August 25, when the latest round of violence erupted in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
Local people and leaders at registered and unregistered Rohingya camps, however, said actual number Rohingyas entering Bangladesh would be much more.
The persecuted Rohingyas continued to flee their homes as violence continued for the sixth day on Wednesday.
Plumes of smoke billowed from several burning villages in worst-hit section of Rakhine state, according to an AFP reporter on a government-led trip to the area, as the violence showed little sign of abating despite security sweeps by Myanmar’s police and troops.
The streets of Maungdaw––northern Rakhine’s largest town––were virtually deserted as fires flickered among charred remains of houses and occasional burst of gunfire echoed in the
distance, reports news agency Agence France-Presse.
Thousands of Rohingyas remained stranded on the border failing to cross the border as border security had been heightened by Bangladesh, which had been hosting 3-5 lakh Rohingya refugees.
Stranded Rohingyas, many with bullet and burn injuries, were falling sick amid shortage of food, safe drinking water and medicine.
Border Guard Bangladesh recovered four bodies of Rohingyas of Myanmar from the River Naf at Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar on Wednesday.
Border guards and Bangladesh Coast Guard also thwarted attempt of 366 Rohingyas to enter Bangladesh at different points of border.
At least 109 people was killed in violence that erupted on August 25, when Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army reportedly attacked at least two dozen different police posts and checkpoints and one military base across three townships in northern Rakhine State and the Burma Army launched ‘clearance operations.’
Hasina urged the United States to put pressure on Myanmar to stop pushing-in Rohingyas to Bangladesh as US acting assistant secretary of state for south and central Asian affairs Alice Wells paid a courtesy call on the prime minister at her office.
‘We have given shelter to a huge number of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh on humanitarian grounds and it’s a big problem for us … So I call upon you to mount pressure on Myanmar in this regard,’ prime minister’s press secretary Ihsanul Karim quoted Hasina at a briefing to have told Alice Wells.
Ihsanul said that Alice Wells wanted to know from Hasina whether there was any political dialogue between Bangladesh and Myanmar on resolving Rohingya problem.
The prime minister replied, ‘Our foreign office is in contact with the Myanmar authorities.’
Foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali and diplomats urged the international community to persuade Myanmar authorities to implement the recommendations of the Kofi Annan-led commission to ensure safe and sustainable return of forcibly displaced people and Rohingya refugees of Myanmar.
They made the urge in separate meetings in Dhaka and other capitals on Tuesday and Wednesday, officials said.
Ah Mahmood Ali, in a meeting with UN resident coordinator Robert D Watkins at the foreign ministry in Dhaka on Wednesday, urged the United Nations to do the needful keeping in view the recommendations made by the commission led by its UN former secretary general Kofi Annan. He also sought continued UN support to resolve Rohingya crisis.
Indonesia’s foreign minister Retno Marsudi talked to Mahmood over phone on Tuesday when he welcomed Indonesia’s willingness to engage with Myanmar to find ways for arresting the escalation of violence and finding a solution to the protracted problem.
Mahmood, in a meeting with Indonesian ambassador Rina Prithyasmiarsi Soemarno in Dhaka, emphasized on the implementation of Kofi Anan commission recommendations for a durable solution of the problem of the Rakhine state.
The commission formed by the Myanmar government about a year ago submitted its report to Myanmar top leader Aung San Suu Kyi on August 23.
Kofi Annan made the report public on August 24, in which the commission said that Myanmar must scrap restrictions on movement and citizenship for its Rohingya minority if it wanted to avoid fuelling extremism and bring peace to Rakhine state.
The commission also called on Myanmar to review a controversial 1982 law that effectively barred some one million Rohingyas from becoming citizens, to invest heavily in the region and to allow the media unfettered access there.
Chinese ambassador Ma Mingqiang and South Korean ambassador Ahn Seong-doo separately called on foreign ministry secretary for maritime affairs unit Md Khurshed Alam in Dhaka on Wednesday, when Khurshed stressed the need for the implementation of the commission report.
Officials in Dhaka said that Rohingyas had continued entering Bangladesh fleeing persecution of the ethnic minority in Myanmar since 1978.
The problem turned acute after the influx of Rohingyas in 1991-92, 2012 while 87,000 Rohingya refugees had entered Bangladesh in 10 months since October 2016, according to an estimate of International Organization for Migration.
Currently, only 33,000 Rohingyas are registered in the two official refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. The Planning Commission in its project proposal for a census said that 3-5 lakh unregistered Rohingya refugees were living in Bangladesh.
IOM director general William Swing on Wednesday called on all parties in Myanmar to exercise restraint following fresh violence in Rakhine state.
In a statement issued from its headquarters at Geneva, he also appealed to the international community to provide more support for civilians fleeing into Bangladesh.
According to IOM Bangladesh, the statement said, an estimated 18,500 people had crossed into Bangladesh from Myanmar since August 25.
New Age Cox’s Bazar correspondent reported that More than18,500 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh in the past six days, said Sanjukta Sahany, head of the IOM office in Cox’s Bazar.
They took shelter at different registered and unregistered Rohingya camps and houses of their relatives, she said.
Besides, several thousand Rohingyas were still waiting at the zero line of the border for entering Bangladesh, she said at a press conference at IOM Cox’s Bazar office.
They have been suffering from food and shelter crises, Sanjukta added.
Rohingya leaders in Bangladesh having contact with stranded Rohingyas along with border, said these people were living under open sky or making shelter with plastic sheets to save themselves from scorching heat or monsoon rain almost without food, and on canal water as well as open defecation.
They said that many Rohingyas were suffering from waterborne diseases like diarrhoea, dysentery and fever.
Locals said that Rohinagys continued to enter Bangladesh dodging heavy border guard patrols on the wee hours walking or crossing Naf River that separated Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Border guard battalion-2 commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Ariful Islam said that border guards recovered four bodies of Rohingyas from the River Naf at Teknaf.
Bodies of two women and two children were floating in the river near Shah Parir Dwip. They were victims of a boat capsize that took place early Tuesday, he said.
The boat carrying Rohingyas was heading towards Bangladesh, he added.
AFP reported that smoke billowed from at least three burning villages in the remote section of Rakhine state where Myanmar military was carrying out sweeps for extremists, an AFP reporter saw Wednesday, when villagers in Rakhine continued to flee their homes.
A Rohingya villager near the town of Maungdaw said that residents fled his hamlet as security forces approached and torched their homes.
‘Villagers are running away … where do we have to live now,’ he told AFP by telephone.
Large fires were visible early Wednesday from the May Yu River that cuts through the area worst hit by unrest, according to an AFP reporter travelling by boat on a Myanmar government-led trip to Maungdaw.
The agency also reported that hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Malaysia on Wednesday in support of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority after renewed violence forced thousands to flee the country.
On Wednesday about 1,000 protesters––mostly believed to be Rohingyas––gathered near a major road in Kuala Lumpur calling for an end to violence against the minority.
The demonstration was peaceful but about 20 protesters were arrested for alleged immigration offences.
A smaller protest was also held outside the Myanmar embassy.
‘We are demanding (Myanmar) stops this violence against the Rohingya,’ said Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid, leading the embassy group.
Bangladeshi Human rights watchdog Ain o Salish Kendra expressing concern on afresh violence against Rohingyas, urged Bangladesh government to adopt a humanitarian approach following the principle of non-refoulement and accommodate the Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds.
Source: New Age