Media: The Independent
The Naf river, which forms a part of the boundary between Bangladesh and Myanmar, is seeing a rising number of bodies of drowned Rohingyas who were fleeing persecution and violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
At least 11 boats, carrying about 160 Rohingyas—mostly women, children and elderly people—capsized at three points on the Naf river early yesterday. The three points are: Golchar point, Moulovibazar point and Lambori point of Shahporirdwip.
At the time of filing this report at 4pm yesterday, police and the coast guard recovered 11 bodies, while over 150 were feared dead.
Of the bodies recovered, eight were those of children, aged between five and eight years, and that of a woman, said Md Main Uddin, officer-in-Charge (OC) of Teknaf police station in Cox’s Bazar.
Nurul Amin, a member of the Shahporirdwip union parishad, told The Independent: “At Shahporirdwip, an estuary near the Bay of Bengal, 11 boats carrying Rohingyas have capsized. Around 150 people are still missing.”
“They were entering Bangladesh through the Shahporirdwip corridor at night. The boats may have capsized due to a storm or overloading,” he said.
Since August 25, after violence erupted in Myanmar’s Rakhine state following an “insurgent” attack on the Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGB) and an army base, at least 400 people have been killed and over 150,000 have fled Myanmar, triggering a humanitarian crisis. From August 25 to September 6, a total of 67 bodies have been recovered from the Naf river around Shahporirdwip point.
“Locals saw nine bodies floating on the Naf river near Shahporirdwip this morning. Later, police recovered the bodies, which have been kept at Shahporirdwip. They will be buried there with the help of the upazila administration,” said Md Main Uddin yesterday.
Earlier, on August 30, police found four bodies, including those of two women and two children, floating near Shahporirdwip. On August 31, police recovered 19 bodies, including those of nine women and 10 children, from the river.
On September 1, police recovered 26 bodies from the same area, mostly of children. On September 2, five more bodies of children were found in the area. The next day, the body of a child was recovered. On September 4, the body of another child was found.
Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) yesterday said that the total number of Rohingya people entering Bangladesh following recent military crackdown in Rakhine state of Myanmar stands at 1,46,000.
Joseph Tripura, spokesperson for the UNHCR in Bangladesh, confirmed the figure to The Independent.
He said, “146,000 is the total number of new arrivals according to the report by various humanitarian agencies.”
The recent crackdown by Myanmar security forces, following the August 25 attack allegedly by Rohingya insurgents on 30 Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) outposts and an army base, has led to the killing of at least 400 people and the influx of a large number of Rohingyas to Bangladesh, causing a massive humanitarian crisis.
Most of the Rohingya members have reportedly lost young male members of their families, while young girls were often victims of rape and other sexual abuse.
An unknown number of Rohingyas are currently living at the no man’s land between Bangladesh and Myanmar under the open sky, waiting for the chance to enter Bangladesh. The aid agencies in Cox’s Bazar are struggling to cope with this massive influx of refugees.
UNB adds: Bangladesh yesterday summoned the Myanmar envoy in Dhaka and lodged a strong protest against unprecedented level of influx of Myanmar nationals to Bangladesh since August 25.
Charge’d Affairs of the Myanmar Embassy Aung Myint was summoned by Director General (Southeast Asia) at the Foreign Ministry, a senior official of the ministry told the news agency.
A note protesting the latest influx of Myanmar nationals into Bangladesh was handed over to the Myanmar envoy, he said.
During the meeting with the CDA, the ministry also expressed concern at the reported laying down of anti-personnel land mine close to the zero line of the border by Myanmar security forces.
Bangladesh expressed deep concern over the escalation of violence in the Rakhine State streams resulting in huge influx of affected civilian population entering Bangladesh to escape from violence and save their lives.
This new influx is unbearable additional burden on Bangladesh which has been hosting around four hundred thousand of Myanmar nationals who had to leave Myanmar in several rounds in the past owing to communal violence and repeated military operations. Bangladesh stressed that it must not be the victim of repeated violence and instability in the Rakhine State.
Bangladesh demanded immediate measures from Myanmar to deescalate the ongoing violence in the northern Rakhine State and immediate effective measures from the Myanmar authorities to stop the ongoing influx of Myanmar nationals into Bangladesh.
It also urged Myanmar to address the real cause of such unprecedented exodus.
Bangladesh also regretted that appropriate measures for protection of civilian population have not been ensured during the military operation that compelled huge number of desperate people to seek shelter in Bangladesh, and emphasised taking immediate and appropriate measures of protection by Myanmar for unarmed civilians of all communities in the Rakhine State regardless of ethnicity and religion so that affected civilians do not need to make desperate attempts to seek shelter in Bangladesh.
It also urged Myanmar to take immediate measures to take back all Myanmar nationals who crossed over to Bangladesh.