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Myanmar’s commission members visit Rohingya slums

Members of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State talking to Rohingya refugees, who had recently entered Bangladesh, at a camp in Teknaf of Cox's Bazar yesterday. Photo: Star

By Daily Star

Cox’s Bazar: Three-members of Myanmar’s “Advisory Commission on Rakhine State” visited two unregistered Rohingya slums in Cox’s Bazar’s Ukhia and Teknaf yesterday.

They visited Paschim Balukhali Rohingya slum in Palongkhali union of Ukhia upazila and Leda slum in Hnila union of Teknaf upazila.

The members spoke directly with the Rohingyas who fled persecution in Myanmar and have been staying in Bangladesh illegally. They also held a closed-door meeting.

The delegation consists of Myanmar National Human Rights Commission Chairman U Win Mra, Core Member and Founder of Religions for Peace in Myanmar U Aye Lwin and former Lebanese minister of culture and UN Special Advisor to Secretary-General Ghassan Salame. They arrived in Cox’s Bazar yesterday.

The delegation arrived at the Balukhali Rohingya slum in the morning. They spoke with the Rohingyas there and held a closed-door meeting with them. Later, they left for Leda unregistered slum and spoke with the Rohingyas who recently took shelter there.

The members would visit Kutupalong unregistered Rohingya slum today and speak with the Rohingyas there, said sources in the International Organisation for Migration.

Cox’s Bazar Deputy Commissioner Md Ali Hossain said the delegation would meet him at his office today after visiting the Kutupalong Rohingya slum.

 The members would then return to Dhaka.

During the closed-door meeting with the Rohingyas in a shanty at Balukhali slum, the members wanted to know why the Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh, said sources.

They spoke with 19 Rohingyas there.

Asked what the members wanted to know, the Rohingyas said the delegation enquired about the torture and repression on them in Myanmar, and that they described all in details.

The  members also held a closed-door meeting with the leaders of Leda Rohingya Slum Management Committee at the IOM office inside the slum, said Committee President Dudu Miah and General Secretary Amir Hossain.

After the meeting, Dudu Miah told journalists that the delegation wanted to know how many Rohingyas had fled Myanmar since October last year and taken shelter in the slum.

The members did not speak with journalists.

The delegation is on a visit to know the latest situation of around 65,000 newly-arrived Rohingyas in Bangladesh.

They would hold a meeting with Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali upon their return to Dhaka.

The delegation would also hold talks with the representatives of various international organisations. Before leaving Dhaka on February 1, they would join a views-exchange meeting to be organised by the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), said IOM sources.

Sources said the delegation would submit an evaluation report on their Bangladesh visit to the office of Kofi Annan-led Commission.

The Myanmar army started a crackdown on the Rohingyas after a terrorist attack on a border outpost in Rakhine state in October last year.

The Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, also known as Rakhine Commission, was formed to find lasting solutions to the complex and delicate issues in the Rakhine State.

The nine-member commission is led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. It is composed of six Myanmar citizens and three foreign experts.

The commission will examine international aspects of the situation, and after consultations, it will submit its findings and recommendations to the government of Myanmar through State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in the second half of 2017.

According to UN estimate, some 66,000 newly-arrived Rohingyas took shelter in Cox’s Bazar. Besides, there are about 32,000 Rohingyas living in two refugee camps for over two decades.