In a flagrant violation of international law, Myanmar has been building a concrete structure in the no-man's land on its border with Bangladesh in Bandarban's Ghumdhum area.
The structure would obstruct the flow of a canal in the area, causing flooding. This would result in displacement of around 6,000 Rohingyas who have been living there since August 2017 following the Myanmar army's crackdown on the minority community in Rakhine, said Bangladesh officials.
Rohingyas expressed fear that the Myanmar army might use the structure as a patrolling station.
Cox's Bazar Deputy Commissioner Kamal Ahmed has sent a letter to the cabinet secretary on Tuesday, expressing concern over the construction work and its possible consequences.
“The Myanmar government cannot set up any structure on the no-man's land. If the structure is built, the Rohingyas in no-man's land will face sufferings as the whole area will go under water,” the DC told The Daily Star on Wednesday.
Prof Imtiaz Ahmed of Dhaka University's international relations department said it was a violation of international law by Myanmar.
“No country can carry out a construction work in no-man's land without a bilateral agreement with its neighbour,” he said.
According to international law, no construction can be done within 150 yards on either side of the border between two countries if there is no bilateral deal to do so.
Rohingyas and locals in Ghumdhum expressed concern that the agricultural land and the no-man's land would be submerged if the structure was built.
Dil Mohammad, a Rohingya leader in the no-man's land, said they would not be able to live there in the rainy season if the concrete structure was built.
“The construction of the structure in the no-man's land is a threat to our security. The Myanmar army could use it as a patrolling station,” he told The Daily Star.
Earlier on many occasions, Myanmar army had deployed troops to the bordering areas and opened fire at the Rohingyas, according to media reports.
In recent weeks, the Rohingyas living in no-man's land have faced growing threats from Myanmar soldiers, who have stepped up patrol along the barbed-wire border fence near the camp in Bandarban's Tambru and ordered the Rohingyas to leave the area over loudspeakers.
The majority of nearly 700,000 Rohingyas who escaped violence in Rakhine settled in Cox's Bazar camps in Bangladesh, but a smaller number insisted on staying in the buffer zone between the borders.
The Rohingyas in no-man's land depend on the aid agencies for their survival. Bangladesh law enforcers don't allow them to get into its territory, except for a few, for shopping in Tambru Bazar to buy daily essentials.
Human Rights Watch in an earlier report said Myanmar forces have laid landmines during attacks on villages and along the Bangladesh border, posing a grave risk to Rohingyas fleeing atrocities.