‘18,500 Ro­hingya have crossed into Bangladesh’

4,000 stuck at bor­der, says IOM

The Hindu - - WORLD - Ha­roon Habib

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.

Con­trast­ing po­si­tions

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.

REUTERS

A Ro­hingya child tries to en­ter Bangladesh.

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