Bangladesh to not allow any more Rohingyas to enter country, say foreign ministry officials

Dhaka: Bangladesh said on Saturday it will not allow any more Rohingyas to enter the country which is already hosting about 400,000 Myanmar nationals who have caused "massive" social, economic and environmental problems.

The foreign ministry summoned the Myanmar envoy in Dhaka and expressed "serious concern" over the recent happenings, including the new clashes between security forces and Rohingya militants that have killed 89 people and forced thousands of civilians — Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine — to flee their homes in the northern Rakhine State.

Rakhine State which is home to more than a million ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims has been the epicentre of religious violence since 2012. The Rohingyas are perceived as illegal immigrants in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

"Bangladesh stressed on the need for respecting the state responsibility to protect its civilian population and urges Myanmar to ensure appropriate protection and shelter for the unarmed civilians especially the vulnerable segments of the population such as women, children and elderly people," Bangladesh's Foreign Office said in a statement.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The statement was issued shortly after Myanmar envoy in Dhaka met Secretary for Asia and Pacific region Mahbub Uz Zaman at the foreign ministry to discuss the "evolving situation" in the Rakhine State.

"The Secretary emphasised on addressing the root cause of the protracted problem through a comprehensive and inclusive approach," it said.

Zaman said that thousands of unarmed civilians including women, children and elderly people from the Rakhine State had assembled close to the border and were making attempts to enter Bangladesh.

"He expressed serious concern at the possibility of recurrence of such a situation as Bangladesh already hosts about four hundred thousand Myanmar nationals," it said.

The development came as Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) on Saturday pushed back scores of Rohingyas and halted hundreds of others on the frontiers.

Officials at southeastern Cox's Bazar bordering Rakhine said BGB troops sent back 73 Rohingyas while intensifying their vigil along the 64-kilometre long frontier, a day after 176 ethnic Muslim minority Rohingyas were returned.

"We have sent back 73 more of them today (Saturday)," BGB's Battalion 2 commander Lieutenant Colonel SM Ariful Islam told PTI.

The Rohingyas were returned with a "humane" approach, said Cox’s Bazar deputy commissioner Ali Hossain, adding that Bangladesh was unable to offer them refuge as "we are already overburdened with thousands of Rohingyas who caused us massive social, economic and environmental problems".

Police have issued a stern warning against offering assistance to Rohingyas.

Meanwhile, the Myanmar army said on Saturday that the death toll from attacks staged by "Rohingya insurgents" on Friday climbed to 89, including 12 members of the security forces.

Rohingyas are Muslim Indo-Aryan people from the Rakhine State in Myanmar. According to the Rohingyas and some scholars, they are indigenous to Rakhine State, while other historians claim that the group represents a mixture of precolonial and colonial immigration.

The official stance of the Myanmar government, however, has been that the Rohingyas are mainly illegal immigrants who migrated into Arakan following Burmese independence in 1948 or after the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971.

Updated Date: Aug 26, 2017 21:29 PM

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