500,000 Rohingyas waiting to enter Bangladesh

Written by Abdur Rahman, Ukhiya | Published on: September 25, 2018

They claim that the Myanmar army is still torturing them in Rakhine Province


WEB_Rohngiya camp in Cox's Bazar_Syed Zakir Hossain_Edited_24.08.2018.jpg
The Rohingyas are living in these rickety huts made of bamboo and plastic sheets in the Cox's Bazar refugee camps Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Thousands of Rohingya are looking for the possibility to enter Bangladesh and escape from the atrocities carried out on them by the Myanmar military. 

Rohingya leaders of several camps in Cox's Bazar say many Rohingyas have already entered Bangladesh by the Naf River. They say more than 500,000 Rohingya refugees are still waiting to flee Rakhine to avoid torture. 

They also claim that around 300 refugees have taken shelter in the border areas’ jungles.

The refugees, who recently entered Bangladesh, claim that the Myanmar army is still torturing Rohingyas in Rakhine Province. 

Some of the refugees claim that  those remaining in Rakhine have been made slaves—and are trying to flee to Bangladesh to avoid torture.

Teknaf Leda Rohingya camp Chairman Abdul Matlab said: “Rohingyas currently in Rakhine have actually been detained. The soldiers are not even allowing them to go to nearby market places. 

“As a result, they are facing food shortages. The Rohingyas are forced into living in a terrible situation, which is compelling them to flee to Bangladesh.”

Quoting the new refugees, Matlab further said: “The soldiers are torturing them in tactical ways, so there are no large signs of anarchy on the surface. If this goes on for long, every Rohingya will flee Rakhine and come to Bangladesh.”

According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), around 13,764 Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh this year. 

Of them, 531 entered by the Naf River in September. The number was 256 in August and 413 in July. From May 20 to July 22, some 3,000 Rohingya entered Bangladesh.

International Organization for Migration (IOM) sources said most of these refugees entered the country via Teknaf’s Sabrang and its surrounding areas.

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and law enforcement have adopted a zero-tolerance policy to prevent the influx. 

•    300 refugees have taken shelter in the jungles along the border areas
•    Rohingyas are inviting their relatives to join them in Bangladesh 
•    Around 13,764 Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh this year
•    Over 700,000 Rohingyas have crossed into Bangladesh since August 2017

Earlier on August 13, BGB sent back a boat carrying 12 Rohingyas. BGB sources said they also sent back a boat carrying seven Rohingyas on September 21.  

However, locals claimed that 12 Rohingyas entered the country. They arrived in two boats.

BGB Teknaf 2 Deputy Commander Major Shariful Islam Jummadar said: “Rohingyas are still trying to enter the country. BGB patrols have been strengthened at the borders to prevent their entry.”

Khadijatul Kobra, 26, who fled to Bangladesh last week from Buthidaung, said: "Myanmar soldiers beat up the Rohingya women and treat their husbands as slaves. 

“During the day, the men are used as housemaids and at night, they are used as guards for the army men. I could not bear the torture and ran away with my family.”

Abul Hayer, who sold his daughter’s gold earrings for Tk5,000 to come to Bangladesh, said: “I fled my house. I met two other families when I reached the border. Twelve of us entered [Bangladesh] together at the Unchiprang border.”

He further said: “There were 800 houses in my village but now there are only 500 houses.”

However, Teknaf Municipality acting chairman Abdullah Monir said: “The influx has increased as the Rohingyas are contacting their relatives in Myanmar, informing them about their wellbeing here, and asking them to come to Bangladesh.”

Echoing this, Teknaf upazila UNO Md Rabiul Hasan said: "No new Rohingya will be allowed to enter Bangladesh. There is strict surveillance on the border. If someone tries to intrude, he will be sent back.”

Since August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingyas, many of whom are children, have crossed into Bangladesh and taken shelter in the makeshift refugee camps in Cox's Bazar.

First published on Dhaka Tribune