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23 January, 2019 00:00 00 AM

Rohingya plight peaks

31 stranded along border shown arrested in India
Staff Reporter, Dhaka

Uncertainty looms large over the fate of many Rohingya Muslims in Saudi Arabia and India with the two countries deporting them. The Indian action has left many Rohingyas stranded along its border with Bangladesh, which is already hosting about 10 lakh members of one of the mostly persecuted communities in the world, while the Saudi action left hundreds of Rohingyas in the country into deep uncertainty. The situation aggravated in the past two days in the wake of arrest and deportation by the Saudi and Indian authorities. Thirty-one Rohingyas, stranded on Bangladesh’s border with India’s Tripura and Assam since Friday, were shown arrested in India yesterday. Earlier, Saudi Arabia is also planning to deport 250 Rohingyas to Bangladesh. Meanwhile, as many as 1,300 Rohingya Muslims have crossed into Bangladesh from India in recent weeks.

UNB adds: Indian Border Security Force (BSF) took back 31 Rohingyas from the no man's land yesterday, said Lt Col Golam Kabir, commander of 25 Border Guard Bangladesh Battalion.

The Rohingyas, including 17 children and six women, came to the place near Kajiatoli area in Kasba Upazila on Friday evening to enter Bangladesh.

Gopinathpur Union Parishad Chairman SM Mannan claimed the BSF was trying to force the refugees into Bangladesh. In another report a group of International NGOs (INGOs) in Myanmar have said the key drivers of insecurity and violence in Rakhine need to be comprehensively addressed, as outlined in the recommendations put forward by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.

The current upsurge in violence threatens the safety of civilians, said the INGOs in a joint statement yesterday. The signatories to the joint statement are ACTED, Action Contre La Faim, CARE International, Christian Aid, Consortium Dutch NGOs, Danish Refugee Council, Lutheran World Federation, Malteser International, MAUK-Myanmar, Mercy Corps, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, Peace Winds Japan, People In Need, Relief International, Save the Children, Solidarits International and World Vision International.

As International NGOs supporting communities throughout Rakhine State, they expressed deep concern for displaced communities and others affected by the upsurge in fighting between the “Arakan Army” (AA) and Myanmar Military. Fighting, attacks, and reports of abuse have invoked fear and anxiety among local communities and displaced an estimated 5,000 men, women, and children, the statement reads.

Newly-appointed UNHCR Representative to Bangladesh Steven Corliss on Monday said he would devote his full efforts to support Bangladesh in protecting and finding a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis and addressing the important impacts on the host communities in Cox’s Bazar.

“I look forward to building upon UNHCR’s historical relations with Bangladesh and becoming a trusted partner in the challenging humanitarian response for nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar,” he said.

Al Jazeera adds: Saudi Arabia is planning to deport 250 Rohingya men to Bangladesh, in what will be the second forced deportation by Riyadh this year, an activist group has told Al Jazeera.

Saudi Arabia is home to almost 300,000 Rohingya, according to Nay San Lwin, campaign coordinator for the Free Rohingya Coalition, who urged authorities to stop the deportations, adding that the men faced imprisonment in Bangladesh upon their arrival.

“Majority of these Rohingya have residency permits and can live in Saudi Arabia legally,” Nay San Lwin told Al Jazeera.

“But these detainees, who are being kept in the Shumaisi detention centre [in Jeddah], have not been treated like their fellow Rohingya. Instead, they are being treated like criminals.”

According to one video obtained by Nay San Lwin, the Rohingya, most of whom arrived in the country several years ago, were being prepared to be taken to Jeddah international airport on Sunday where they would then board direct flights to Dhaka.

AFP adds: The latest group crossed barbed-wire fences along the Indian part of the border, but Bangladesh border guards stopped them from entering their territory.

“They are now living in two tents provided by Indian border forces on the border’s zero line,” Mannan Jahangir, a local government official at the Bangladeshi border town of Kasba, told AFP.

Lieutenant Colonel Golam Kabir, a Bangladesh border guard commander, said the group first arrived at the border from the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir on January 18.

Senior officials from both sides held a meeting on Sunday, with Dhaka insisting that New Delhi take the refugees as they had Indian health cards and documents issued by the UN refugee agency. New Delhi has faced sharp criticism for turning members of the persecuted minority over to Buddhist-majority Myanmar in recent weeks, including from the United Nations and rights groups. India, which is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, arrested 230 Rohingyas in 2018 — the most in years as Hindu hardliners called for mass deportations.

Bangladesh is already hosting around a million Rohingya in giant refugee camps in the country’s southeast, three-quarters of whom fled a Myanmar military crackdown in August 2017.

UN investigators have said senior Myanmar military officials should be prosecuted for genocide in Rakhine state, but the country insists it was defending itself against militants. Nayana Bose, a spokeswoman for the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG), which includes UN agencies, said last week the pace of new arrivals from India had escalated since January 3.

Some 40,000 Rohingya are living in India. Police said those who arrived in Bangladesh had been living in India for years.

Rohingya for decades have faced persecution and pogroms in Myanmar, which refuses to recognise them as citizens and falsely labels them “Bengali” illegal immigrants.


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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