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Fresh worries over fleeing Rohingyas

Some of the Rohingya men, women and children who entered into Bangladesh from Myanmar, crossing the Naf river on small boats in the dead of Friday night. They have taken shelter at Leda Bosti, an unregistered Rohingya camp at Hnila in Teknaf of Cox's Bazar. Some of them have their relatives there. The photo was taken at 2:00pm yesterday. Photo: Star

By The Daily Star

Despite heightened efforts of border, coast guards, many from Myanmar infiltrate into Bangladesh thru’ Teknaf border

Ali Hossain along with five members of his family was waiting for a bus in Hoyaikong Bazar area on Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf highway around noon yesterday.

He is accompanied by his mother Jahera Begum, sister Halima Khatun and Halima’s two minor children. They were going to a village in Chakoria upazila where they have relatives.

But there is a story of pain and suffering behind this seemingly ordinary scene. Ali Hossain is a Rohingya Muslim, often called one of the most persecuted minority groups in the world.

Talking to this correspondent, the 30-year-old man said that before dawn, some 15 Myanmar nationals including his family crossed the river in small boats and entered Bangladesh through Lombabeel border point under Hoyaikong union of Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar district.

They are from Kuikkhali area in Maungdaw in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

Ali said he along with his family members fled home to evade torture by Myanmar army.

Moulavi Syed Karim of Myanmar’s Raimmya Ghona area and Habibullah of Keyari Para are two other Rohingyas who came here for the same reason — escape persecution.

Along with their relatives, they entered Bangladesh through Jhimongkhali point of Hoyaikong union on Friday.

“Mynamrese army burned down our houses and killed our relatives,” alleged Habibullah.

Nazma Begu, 30-year-old wife of Kamal Hossain from Jambunia area, said, “We have left home to save our life.”

Nur Begum, Shahnur and Shomila Begum, who are from Roigyadong, said they entered through Leda border point, claiming that males from their houses were “taken away”.

According locals sources, many Rohingyas infiltrating since Friday are staying at an unregistered Rohingya camp in Leda village of Hnila union under Teknaf.

Rohingyas are trying to escape the military crackdown after a recent escalation in violence in Rakhine State, say residents, adding that some of them have been gunned down while attempting to cross the river that marks the frontier with Bangladesh.

Reuters reports that soldiers have poured into the north of Rakhine along Myanmar’s frontier with Bangladesh, responding to attacks by alleged Muslim militants on border posts on October 9.

They have locked down the district, where the vast majority of residents are Rohingya, shutting out aid workers and independent observers.

Up to 30,000 people have been displaced by violence in Rakhine, half of which occurred during the last week when dozens of people died in clashes with the military, the UN said Friday.

The resurgence of violence has deepened a crisis that has already threatened to derail the new administration led by Myanmar’s democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.

Rakhine has sizzled with religious tension ever since waves of violence between the majority Buddhist population and the Muslim Rohingya left more than 100 dead in 2012, AFP wrote on Saturday.

Bangladesh officials say patrolling has been increased to stop the infiltration of Rohingyas, but these persecuted minorities have been infiltrating after crossing the river at night.

“Deeper the night, more crowded the Naf river gets,” Sirajul Islam Chowdhury Lalu, member of ward-2 of Hoyaikong.

The rate of Rohingya infiltration has increased in the last few days. They are coming in groups, he said.

Lalu claimed he has information that “several hundred Rohingyas” entered Bangladesh from Saturday night to early in the morning yesterday. “They are taking shelter in different areas and some have sneaked into other districts.”

Another UP member preferring anonymity said many Rohingyas infiltrated through Meena Bazar, Kharangkhali and Lombabeel points from Saturday night to early yesterday.

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and Coast Guard pushed back 86 Rohingyas from Hnila and Sabrang points on November 15, and some 85 others from different border points in Ukhia and Teknaf on Thursday and Friday.

And on Friday night, 125 Rohingyas were sent back from number 5 Sluice Gate area in Sabrang early Saturday.

Talking to reporters, Lt Nafiur Rahman, commander of Coast Guard Teknaf station, said to monitor the movement of the Rohingyas the patrol by coast guards along the river has been increased.

About the 125, he said all of the passengers were Rohingya who tried to enter Bangladesh amid an uptick of violent clashes in neighbouring Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

Col Abu Zar Al Zahid, commander of BGB No 2 Battalion at Teknaf, yesterday said the Rohingyas have been trying to cross the river in small boats and enter Bangladesh.

He said BGB has increased manpower at border outposts to prevent the infiltration.

The BGB official said they are holding meetings with locals, including fishermen, to limit movement and fishing in the borders. Locals are being motivated to help BGB stop Rohingyas intrusion, he added.