Rohingyas: Still trickling in, as fear runs high
12:00 AM, November 07, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:41 AM, November 07, 2017

Still trickling in, as fear runs high

With no food, money and in constant fear in Rakhine State, Rohingyas are still trickling into Bangladesh.

Some of the over 4,000 who had arrived this month said they were so scared seeing their neighbours' home burn that they locked themselves in their homes.

Others said they had no money to buy food or could not go to the market to buy them due to security concerns.

"They are coming basically to save their lives," Vivian Tan, communication officer of UN refugee agency UNHCR, told The Daily Star in Cox's Bazar yesterday.

Some of the Rohingyas who had arrived between November 2 and November 5 told her that they had to move from one place to another for safety before coming to Bangladesh.

"They came out of desperation," Tan added.

Over 4,000 Rohingya refugees entered Bangladesh in that period, bringing the total number to 609,000 since August 25, said the Inter Sector Coordination Group, a coordinating body of the UN agencies and NGOs working in the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar.

Myanmar security forces began a crackdown on August 25 in response to Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army's (ARSA) attacks on police posts and an army base in northern Rakhine State.

Rights group said Myanmar security forces in collaboration with local Buddhist Rakhine people burnt down nearly 300 Rohingya villages. Hundreds of Rohingya men were killed and women raped, said rights groups, terming it genocide, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. 

Amid mounting global outcry, Myanmar de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi in an address on September 19 said since September 5, there had been "no armed clashes and there have been no clearance operations".

World Food Programme (WFP), whose operations were suspended in Rakhine for more than two months, was allowed access on October 27.

However, it was not known if the WFP had begun its food distribution at the ground level yet, said Tan.

"Some new arrivals said their food ran out and were hardly eating anything at home," she said.

International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Spokesperson Olivia Headon from Cox' Bazar said the Rohingyas who arrived recently said the burning of houses has not stopped yet.

They could not say who were burning the houses because they left their homes in fear for life, she said.

Hasina, a Rohingya woman, who waited for a large group of people from their neighbourhood in Rakhine State to leave with before embarking on the journey, told IOM staff she thought there might be safety in numbers.

"We were too scared to leave our house,” she said, according to a statement of IOM issued yesterday.

"Most walked for eight to 10 days to reach the border with little food and water. They then waited for three or four days on mud embankments between paddy fields before they could cross. Sleeping in the open, the family suffered under the burning sun and monsoon rain," it said.

Nur, a mother of eight, described how her family had walked through areas scattered with dead bodies to reach Bangladesh.

Speaking to IOM staff, she said they even spent one night sleeping among human remains.

UN Under-Secretary General Pramilla Patten while meeting Health Minister Mohammed Nasim at the health ministry yesterday said, "It is important to collect data on the Rohingya women who were raped so that they can get justice."

The UN's special representative on sexual violence in conflict also thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for sheltering the Rohingya refugees and providing life-saving support, according to a press release.

Meanwhile, the Social Services Division has identified and registered 22,484 unaccompanied and separated children as of October 28, according to the Inter-Sector Coordination Group.

As of November 4, the Bangladesh Immigration and Passports Department registered 405,700 Rohingyas using biometric registration.


Last night, police in a drive detained at least 26 people, including five foreigners, from Kutupalong Rohingya camp in Ukhia upazila for staying there without permission, reports UNB.

On secret information that some foreigners and local NGO men were staying illegally at the camp, a team of police, led by additional district magistrate Khaled Mahmud, conducted a drive there, said Mohammad Ali, deputy commissioner of Cox's Bazar.

During the drive, they detained 26 people, he said, adding that the foreigners were released later after they gave an undertaking. 

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