Around 200 Buddhists from Myanmar’s Chin state crossed into a remote hilly region of Bandarban’s Ruma on Monday following intensified fighting between Myanmar army and rebel group Arakan Army, officials said.
Shamsul Alam, upazila nirbahi officer in Ruma upazila, said members of around 40 Myanmar families took shelter in Cheih Kaying Para under Remakree Prangsha union.
The fresh arrival of Myanmar nationals takes place at a time when Bangladesh is struggling to cope with the burden of over a million Rohingya Muslims. Of them, some 750,000 have taken shelter in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar since August 2017 following a military crackdown in Rakhine.
Some 1,300 Rohingyas recently fled to the camps from India after allegedly facing abuses and threats in the neighbouring country. Several dozen Rohingyas were also deported from jails in Saudi Arabia in recent weeks.
Talking to The Daily Star, UNO Shamsul yesterday said the newly displaced people from Myanmar include members of ethnic groups Kyang, Khumi and Rakhine. They have set up temporary tents in Cheih Kaying Para with the help of locals.
Sources at Border Guard Bangladesh said the Myanmar army and Arakan Army, a rebel group calling for greater autonomy for Rakhine, have got involved in periodic clashes in Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships since November 30 last year.
A BGB official in Cox’s Bazar said they sent two patrol teams to Ruma on Monday after hearing about trespassing into Bangladesh territory by some Myanmar nationals.
“We are still waiting to hear from the patrol team as the area is very remote,” he told this newspaper yesterday.
DHAKA PROTESTS FRESH ARRIVALS
The Bangladesh foreign ministry late Tuesday summoned Myanmar ambassador in Dhaka to protest over the new arrivals from the neighbouring country, reports AFP.
“The number is increasing. Some people are already waiting on the border and they may also enter. We have asked them [Myanmar] to take effective and urgent steps so that violence is stopped,” the official told the news agency.
On January 4, the Arakan Army reportedly killed 13 people in raids on police border posts. The UN says at least 5,200 people have been displaced by the violence.
An accurate death toll has been impossible to ascertain because the zone is under a near-blanket lockdown.
The fighting has added a new, complex dimension to the troubles in Rakhine that since 2012 have seen religious and communal riots, the mass exodus of Rohingya and killings across all ethnic lines.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen yesterday said Bangladesh-Myanmar border has almost been sealed off to stop further influx of Myanmar nationals, reports UNB.
He was talking to reporters after his meeting with UNHCR special envoy Angelina Jolie and Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener at his office in Dhaka.
Terming Jolie a big voice, the minister said he conveyed to her that Bangladesh wanted all Rohingyas to go back to their place of origin in Rakhine safely.
Myanmar should agree on a safe zone under the supervision of ASEAN in Rakhine for Rohingyas, he added.