Media: The Independent
‘34,000 Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh’
The newly arrived Rohingyas Muslims described the severe torture on them by Myanmar’s military to Indonesia’s foreign minister, Rento Marsudi, at Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar district yesterday. She had gone there to see for herself the condition of the refugees. She visited both the registered and unregistered camps at Kutupalong in Ukhiya, said Md Ali Hossain, deputy commissioner of Cox’s Bazar district.
She was accompanied by Bangladesh’s foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali, Md Ali Hossain, local lawmaker Abdur Rahman Bodi, Indonisian Ambassador Iwan Wiranata-atmadja, Shaidul Haque, secretary of the foreign ministry, International Organisation for Migration’s (IOM’s) Bangladesh chief of mission, Sarat Dash, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Bangladesh country representative, Shinji Kubo, and officers of humanitarian agencies in Cox’s Bazar.
She spoke to six newly arrived injured Rohingyas, four of them women, at the unregistered camp at Kutoplaong.
The women described the violence and rape by the military and Rakhine youths. The Indonesian foreign minister expressed sympathy after hearing them.
At around 11am, she arrived by a helicopter at the Kutupalong Rohingya camp and started her visit to the camps at 11:30am. She was at the camps till 1:30pm and then left for Dhaka.
Retno Marsudi arrived in Dhaka on Monday night on a 24-hour visit to discuss with senior government officials ways to end ethnic cleansing and persecution of Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. She came to Cox’s Bazar after attending a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with Myanmar’s state counsellor and foreign minister, Aung San Suu Kyi, in Yangon on Monday.
Mohammed Shahriar Alam, state minister for foreign affairs, wrote in his Facebook post yesterday: “In Ukhiya Indonesian foreign minister. In the tour she got a clear picture talking with the victims. She arrived in Dhaka after finishing a meeting with ASEAN foreign ministers in Myanmar. I hope in future Indonesia can play role to solve problem of Myanmar.”
The human rights group, Amnesty International, has warned that the actions of Myanmar’s military may constitute crimes against humanity.
Myanmar’s leader, Suu Kyi, met regional foreign ministers to tackle the growing international criticism of her army’s treatment of the country’s Rohingya minority. Retno Marsudi came to Bangladesh to find a solution to the crisis.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said yesterday that the total number of Rohingya people arriving in Bangladesh following the military crackdown in the Rakhine state stands at 34,000.
Joseph Surja Tripura, spokesperson of the UNHCR in Bangladesh, confirmed the figure to The Independent.
He said: “34,000 is the total number of new arrivals according to the report by various humanitarian agencies.”
Following an attack on a border outpost of Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP) on October 9, Myanmar’s military started the crackdown. As a result, the Rohingyas started fleeing to Bangladesh. They are entering this country almost every day, seeking a safe haven. Most of them have reportedly lost young male members of their families, while young girls are often victims of rape. Many humanitarian agencies, along with the World Food Programme, are distributing food and other items among the newly arrived Rohingyas.
In a press release on Tuesday evening, the UNHCR spokesman, Joseph Surja Tripura, said the visitors met both refugees and Undocumented Myanmar Nationals (UMN), who have been in the country for many years. They also met those who have arrived since violence erupted in early October 2016.
The discussions with the community allowed the visitors to have a better understanding of the ground realities that have forced some 34,000 civilians to cross the border into Bangladesh in recent weeks and months, said the press release. Both the IOM and UNHCR also had an opportunity to raise awareness around the service areas that would require strengthening to ensure that the needs of the new arrivals are met, without diluting the existing services further. This visit was also helpful to understand the protection and assistance needs of the new arrivals, said the press release.
The IOM and its partners work in the makeshift settlements and neighbouring host communities, reaching about 100,000 of the most vulnerable. The services provided to the Unregistered Myanmar Nationals include healthcare, water and sanitation support, non-formal education and responses to sexual and gender based violence, said the press release. The London-based Burmese Rohingya Organisation (BROUK) said from October 9 to November 20, 2016, a total of 428 died. In all, 192 Rohingya women were raped, 440 Rohingya men arrested, 120 people were missing, 160 suffered physical violence and 1,780 houses and buildings were burnt down.
However, in a recent report, the Myanmar authorities said 93 people were killed, including 17 policemen and soldiers, and 76 alleged “attackers” and about 575 suspects were detained.
The UNHCR and its partners work in the two registered refugee camps covering protection and basic needs for some 32,000 individuals, starting from registration, access to justice, child protection, response to sexual and gender-based violence, livelihood training, non-food items to water and sanitation, said the joint press release of the IOM and UNHCR.
“The UNHCR encourages the Government of Bangladesh to allow people to seek safety from the ongoing violence in Myanmar and have access to immediate safety and essential humanitarian assistance,” said Shinji Kubo.
“The UNHCR stands ready to provide support and can play an important role in the coordination of a refugee response, as well as advocacy with the international community to support and enhance resources,” said the joint press release.
Sarat Dash added: “The IOM has been able to provide assistance to the most vulnerable in Cox’s Bazar, as the lead UN agency nominated by the national strategy on the situation adopted by the Bangladesh Cabinet in 2013. With support from the government, we are currently expanding our programmes to ensure we can reach out to the latest arrivals, but resources are being stretched thin.
We hope this high level visit will bring the much needed focus to this forgotten crisis and speed up the possibility of a political solution.”