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17 Rohingyas die after boat capsizes in Naf

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Publication Date: 1 September  2017
Media: The Independent

17 Rohingyas die after boat capsizes in Naf

Influx of thousands, monsoon rains add to woes
SHAMSUDDIN ILLIUS, From Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar

At least 17 Rohingyas—women and children—died yesterday (Thursday) at the Naf river in Teknaf after a boat, which was carrying the migrants fleeing persecution in Myanmar, capsized. There were 10 women and seven children. With the recovery of more bodies, the number of deaths reached 21 in two separate boat accidents in the Naf on Wednesday and Thursday.

“An engine-run boat, which was carrying 25 Rohingya refugees, was trying to enter Bangladesh through Shah Porir Dwip at Teknaf upazila

of the district at 11:30pm on Wednesday,” said Mohammad Main Uddin, officer-in-charge (OC) of the Teknaf Police Station.

“We recovered two bodies early on Thursday, while 15 more were recovered on Thursday morning,” said the OC.

Till the time of filing the report, 12pm yesterday (Thursday), eight Rohingyas were still missing. The Rohingyas were fleeing from Buchidang of Myanmar. However, the identities of the Rohingyas could not be immediately ascertained.

Local sources said hundreds of Rohingyas were crossing the Naf everyday through Shahporirdwip on small boats. The two recent accidents

occurred because of overloading. On the other hand, the number of people entering Bangladesh and escaping persecution in Myanmar is increasing with the passage of time.

The Rohingyas who fled Myanmar said the number would rise as the security forces of Myanmar are setting new areas of Rakhine state on fire every day.

On Thursday morning, this correspondent saw at least 2,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and the elderly, entering through Rezuamtal border points of Naikhonchhori. They were seen along with their utensils, cows, buffalos, goats, ducks and hens. Mud could be seen on their hands and faces. They complained that they had no option other than fleeing their homes as Myanmarese security forces had set their houses ablaze. This new violence has escalated the influx that will exceed the earlier three phases of influx that occurred in 1991, 2012 and last year.

Thousands of Rohingyas, many of them children, women and the elderly, were found living in untold misery under the open sky at different border points and no-man’s land on Thursday.

“When the military set our house on fire, we started running helter-skelter with our valuables. I have brought five of my cows and left three others in Myanmar,” said Mohammad Selim, who hails from Maungdaw, on Wednesday.

“I am waiting to sell off my cows here,” added Selim.

“I have brought 22 cows here, but could not bring 10 more cows. I don’t know what happened to them. I left home when the military set my home ablaze on Tuesday night,” said Md Khalil, who was waiting at North Ghumdhum of Naikhonchhori border on Wednesday evening.

“We fled with my 11-day-old son and five children from home as the military set fire to our houses on Wednesday. The local youths also looted our property,” said Rehana Begum, hailing from Komorkhali of Maungdaw.

At the same time, the number of refugees at no mans’ land is increasing as well at different border points. The men could be seen constructing makeshift tents on the no man’s land. However, they are suffering from a dearth of food, drinking water, and medicines.

Many injured Rohingyas, especially bullet-injured people, are also entering Bangladesh.  Since last Friday, soon after the fresh violence at Rakhine state, over 150 injured people were admitted to different hospitals in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar. Seven of them died.

27,000 Rohingyas enter Bangladesh in 7 days

Latest estimates from UN sources suggest more than 27,000 people have crossed into Bangladesh in the area around Cox’s Bazar since Friday (Aug 25), while 20,000 more remain stranded in the No Man’s Land between the two countries, UNB adds.

Meanwhile, a United Nations human rights expert has expressed alarm at the deteriorating situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, affecting not just the Rakhine and Muslim populations but also other communities.

“The humanitarian situation is deteriorating rapidly and I am concerned that many thousands of people are increasingly at risk of grave violations of their human rights,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee.

“The worsening cycle of violence is of grave concern and must be broken urgently.”

Lee said the suffering of the Rohingya was particularly poignant this week, while the world’s Muslim communities celebrated Eid al-Adha on 1 September but the Rohingya remained in a precarious situation, not knowing their future or the fate of their relatives.

The Special Rapporteur noted concerns over both the extremist attacks which followed the release of the final report by the Rakhine Advisory Commission, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and the major security operations undertaken in response to the attacks.


Shamsuddin Illius
Shamsuddin Illius is a print and online media journalist. He has been working in the field (fulltime) of journalism since 2010. He is very much passionate about journalism since his early age. Currently he is the Bureau Chief-Chittagong at The Business Standard.

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