Con­trols placed on refugees

Bangladesh re­stricts Ro­hingya move­ments

Bangkok Post - - ASEAN -

COX’S BAZAR: Bangladeshi au­thor­i­ties took steps yes­ter­day to re­strict the move­ment of Mus­lim Ro­hingya refugees flee­ing vi­o­lence in Myan­mar into crowded bor­der camps and started im­mu­nis­ing tens of thou­sands of chil­dren against dis­eases.

Bangladesh has been over­whelmed with more than 400,000 Ro­hingya who fled their homes in the past three weeks amid a cri­sis the UN de­scribes as eth­nic cleans­ing. Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina, who lam­basted Myan­mar for “atroc­i­ties” dur­ing a visit to bor­der camps last week, left Dhaka to ad­dress the an­nual UN gath­er­ing in New York.

Ab­dus Salam, the top gov­ern­ment ad­min­is­tra­tor in the Cox’s Bazar dis­trict hos­pi­tal, said that some 150,000 chil­dren will be im­mu­nised over seven days for measles, rubella and po­lio. The UN said there are 240,000 chil­dren liv­ing in dire con­di­tions.

“There are a lot of weak and mal­nour­ished chil­dren among the new ar­rivals,” Unicef rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Bangladesh, Edouard Beigbeder, said in an email. “If proper pre­ven­tive mea­sures are not taken, highly in­fec­tious dis­eases, espe­cially measles, could even cause an out­break.”

Two pre-ex­ist­ing Ro­hingya camps were al­ready be­yond ca­pac­ity and the new ar­rivals were stay­ing in schools or hud­dling in makeshift set­tle­ments with no toi­lets along road­sides and in open fields.

Po­lice were check­ing ve­hi­cles to pre­vent the Ro­hingya from spread­ing to nearby towns in an at­tempt to con­trol a chaotic sit­u­a­tion.

“There is an in­struc­tion from the prime min­is­ter that we must treat Ro­hingya Mus­lims main­tain­ing hu­man rights,” said AKM Iqbal Hos­sain, a po­lice su­per­in­ten­dent. “As many pri­vate and so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tions are com­ing and dis­tribut­ing re­lief, some­times chaos breaks out ... You un­der­stand the scale of a hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis here, it’s very dif­fi­cult to keep or­der, but we are do­ing so.”

The refugees be­gan pour­ing in from Myan­mar’s Rakhine state af­ter a Ro­hingya in­sur­gent group launched at­tacks on se­cu­rity posts on Aug 25, prompt­ing Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary to launch “clear­ance oper­a­tions” to root out the rebels. Those flee­ing have de­scribed in­dis­crim­i­nate at­tacks by se­cu­rity forces and Bud­dhist mobs.

The Myan­mar gov­ern­ment said hun­dreds have died, mostly “ter­ror­ists”, and that 176 out of 471 Ro­hingya vil­lages have been aban­doned. Myan­mar has in­sisted Ro­hingya in­sur­gents and flee­ing vil­lagers are de­stroy­ing their own homes. It has of­fered no proof to back these charges.

At a state hos­pi­tal, a Ro­hingya man who iden­ti­fied him­self as Rah­mat­ul­lah was car­ing for his 10-year-old son who was re­cov­er­ing from a bul­let that left a deep wound as it pierced his right leg.

“Why did they shoot him? What’s his crime? He is just a child,” Rah­mat­ul­lah said. “It was nine in the morn­ing and I was vis­it­ing my neigh­bour’s home at my Baag­guna vil­lage when they came and started shoot­ing in­dis­crim­i­nately.” He said he fled with 10 of his fam­ily mem­bers.

“I started run­ning for the hill, where I hid my­self and later col­lected my son and oth­ers and left,” he said.

Eric Schwartz, head of the US-based char­ity Refugees In­ter­na­tional and a for­mer as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state for pop­u­la­tion, refugees and migration, said he was shocked at the level of mis­ery in the camps and called for in­ter­na­tional pres­sure on Myan­mar to stop the vi­o­lence.

“The sto­ries that we are hear­ing ... I vis­ited a hos­pi­tal yes­ter­day, chil­dren aged 1, 5, 10 suf­fered burn wounds, gun­shot wounds,” he said. “Hu­man be­ings es­sen­tially treated like an­i­mals.”

He said the US should re-im­pose sanc­tions on Myan­mar that were in place be­fore it made the tran­si­tion from mil­i­tary to civil­ian rule.

But of­fi­cials in Wash­ing­ton have been care­ful not to un­der­mine the weak civil­ian gov­ern­ment of No­bel Peace lau­re­ate Aung San Suu Kyi, which took of­fice last year but has lately taken flak.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Thailand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.