‘18,500 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh’
4,000 stuck at border, says IOM
The International Organisation of Migration (IOM) on Wednesday said that about 18,500 Rohingya Muslims have crossed into Bangladesh since fighting erupted in the Rakhine State six days ago, while thousands more are stuck at the Bangladesh border or scrambling to reach it.
“They are in a very, very desperate condition,” said Sanjukta Sahany, IOM head at the Cox’s Bazar, near Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged the U.S. to put pressure on Myanmar to stop the exodus of their nationals.
“We have given shelter to a huge number of Rohingya refugees on humanitarian grounds and it’s a big problem for us... So I call upon you to mount pressure on Myanmar in this regard,” state news agency BSS quoted Ms. Hasina as telling the U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells who had called on her to seek information on the issue on Wednesday.
About five lakh Rohingyas have already taken shelter in Bangladesh over the last two decades.
Ms. Wells said the U.S. was interested in working with Bangladesh to combat terrorism.
Meanwhile, the two major parties have taken different positions on the Rohingya issue. While the ruling Awami League has urged Myanmar to take back the refugees, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia has called upon the government to open the border for the refugees.
At least 109 people have been killed in the clashes with insurgents, Myanmar says, most of them militants but also members of the security forces and civilians.
Further, at least 4,000 people are stranded in no man’s land between the two countries, with temporary shelters stretching for several hundred metres on a narrow strip between the Naf river and Myanmar’s border fence.
Protest in Malaysia
Meanwhile, Rohingya refugees in Malaysia protested against the violence in northwest Myanmar.
Some 1,200 mostly Rohingya Muslims — holding placards that read ‘Stop killing Rohingya’ — took to the streets of Malaysia’s capital to appeal for an end to the violence.
About 155 demonstrators were arrested as Malaysian police stopped the protest. Police said one man tried to set himself on fire with petrol.
Muslim-majority Malaysia is home to nearly 60,000 refugees and asylum-seekers of the Rohingya minority, who suffer persecution in mostly Buddhist Myanmar.
Some protesters pleaded with the police, showing their refugee identity cards, as they were taken away.
A Rohingya child tries to enter Bangladesh.