November 2018
Latest Rohingya News Arakan News Myanmar News The Rohingya, an ethnic group from Arakan, Myanmar (Burma), is one of most persecuted minorities in the
This photo taken on 17 November, 2018 shows Rohingya refugee Mosammat Khadiza, 16, during an interview near the Kutupalang camp at Cox's Bazar in southern Bangladesh. (Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP Photo)
As desperation swells in the squalid camps that are home to a million Rohingya refugees, long-dormant - and often deadly - trafficking networks are being revived, Bangladeshi officials warn.
Smugglers operating rickety fishing boats prey on the hopes of people who fled violence in Myanmar, charging them small fortunes for a dangerous journey to Southeast Asia, offering an empty promise of a fresh start.
The first vessel to depart Bangladesh for Malaysia since the end of the monsoon was intercepted by law enforcement, who warn others will follow.
Many in the heaving Rohingya ghettos of Cox's Bazar feel they have no other option but to try to escape, community leaders and aid workers say.
A deal to safely return the persecuted Muslims to Myanmar has failed, condemning them to limbo and deprivation in fetid camps where they are barred from leaving or looking for work to improve their lot.
Sensing a surge, coastguard patrols have been stepped up since the first boat was detected in November in the Bay of Bengal, said Ikbal Hossain, deputy police chief in Cox's Bazar.
Another boatload of refugees who fled a camp in Myanmar were found off the country's southern coast in November after spending 15 days at sea in a failed attempt to reach Malaysia.
"As the sea turns calm, the smuggling rackets have resumed their activities. But we have a zero-tolerance attitude toward human trafficking," Hossain said.
But he added that traffickers were difficult to detect in the teeming hills where more than 720,000 Rohingya sought refuge after a brutal crackdown by the Myanmar military in August 2017.
Terrifying journey
Shabeda Begum, a 30-year-old widow in what United Nations (UN) investigators called ethnic cleansing, said she was approached by another refugee offering to reunite her with a sister and brother-in-law in Malaysia.
The Muslim-majority nation hosts one of the largest overseas Rohingya communities, many of whom arrived by boat from Cox's Bazar until that smuggling pipeline was closed in 2015.
Begum was introduced to a Bangladeshi handler in the coastal town of Teknaf and arranged to get the required US$120 from family in Kuala Lumpur.
That secured Begum and her two children a spot aboard the crescent-shaped fishing boat crammed with 33 other refugees above and below deck.
"They promised my life would change if I could reach there with my kids," she told AFP despairingly from a plastic-roofed shanty.
Her son, seven-year-old Mohammad Riaz, recounted his terror as the creaking boat was tossed about in the churning sea.
"I was scared because the boat was bouncing on the waves. I thought I would fall overboard and into the sea," he said.
Six traffickers were arrested in connection with the failed voyage, police said.
One told AFP the fishing trawler had been due to transfer the Rohingya to a bigger Malaysia-bound ship out at sea.
False promises
At its peak, transnational smuggling networks passed refugees from boat to boat before docking in Thailand and moving them overland to secret campsites in Malaysia.
That route collapsed in May 2015, when shallow graves were found at migrant holding camps along the Thai-Malaysia border.
As authorities closed in, traffickers abandoned boats in the Andaman Sea, leaving starving and dehydrated passengers to drift south.
No one knows exactly how many died in the transit camps or at sea.
Local authorities fear another exodus is looming, as traffickers return to old tricks to lure vulnerable refugees onto ships.
Mosammat Khadiza, a 16-year-old refugee, said her mother put her on board after traffickers promised that a wealthy Rohingya man in Malaysia would marry her.
"We were kept in a fish refrigerator inside the boat's hull for hours. We couldn't move inside the tight space," she explained. - AFP

Latest Rohingya News Arakan News Myanmar News The Rohingya, an ethnic group from Arakan, Myanmar (Burma), is one of most persecuted minorities in the
Community leader says Hindus feel neglected in Bangladesh camps because focus remains on Muslim Rohingya.
Photo credit: dhakatribune.com

 

Mandalay

Hindu refugees in Bangladesh are dismayed over a delay to their repatriation to their homes in Myanmar's Rakhine State.

Ni Maw, a Hindu community leader in Maungdaw, northern Rakhine, said about 440 Hindus want to return to Rakhine as they feel Myanmar is their home.

"Our Hindu community has no problem with other religions such as Muslims or Buddhists, so Hindu refugees want to live in harmony in Rakhine after returning to their homes," Ni Maw told ucanews.com.

He said Hindu refugees were disappointed that repatriation has been delayed to next year.

"I have no idea when they [Hindu refugees] will be able to come back as it totally depends on both the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar," Ni Maw said.

Hla Tun, a Hindu community leader in Yangon, said it appears that Bangladesh does not want to include Hindu refugees in the first batch of repatriations as it wants to focus on Rohingya Muslim refugees initially.

"Our Hindu community is a minority group in Myanmar and we feel we are neglected as the world pays much attention to the Rohingya despite the Hindu community bearing the brunt of violence and attacks in Rakhine in August 2017," Hla Tun told ucanews.com.

The Hindu leader, who visited refugee camps in Bangladesh in April with government officials, said Hindu refugees are excited about repatriation.

"Myanmar's government is ready to accept all refugees and sent a list of verified people, but the repatriation delay is the responsibility of Bangladesh's government," Hla Tun said.

Myanmar officials who visited refugee camps in Bangladesh last month said they met with Hindu refugees who are willing to come back to northern Rakhine.

Both governments agreed to repatriate the first batch of 2,251 refugees on Nov. 15 but the plan has been stalled amid opposition and safety concerns from Rohingya refugees, rights groups and aid agencies.

At least 3,000 of an estimated 8,000 Hindus living in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Sittwe fled during the exodus of Muslim Rohingya during clearance operations by the Myanmar military in August 2017. Some were internally displaced while others crossed over to neighboring Bangladesh.

More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh to escape the brutal military crackdown in Rakhine in response to Muslim militant attacks on security posts on Aug. 25, 2017.

The violence affected thousands of Hindus. Myanmar's military reportedly found two mass graves with 45 bodies of Hindus in Rakhine and blamed the killings on militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

On May 22, Amnesty International published a report that ARSA killed 53 members of the Hindu community in Kha Maung Seik village and another 46 Hindus from Ye Bauk Kyar village in August 2017.

In Rakhine, Hindus account for 9,791 of the population of 2 million. Hindus make up only 0.5 percent of the population in Myanmar, while 89 percent are Buddhists and 4.3 percent are Muslims, according to the 2014 census.

Source: UCAN

 

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Latest Rohingya News Arakan News Myanmar News The Rohingya, an ethnic group from Arakan, Myanmar (Burma), is one of most persecuted minorities in the
UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 21 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 21st Nov, 2018 ) :The United Nations migration agency said Wednesday that it has upgraded structures in Bangladesh's Rohingya refugee camps as temporary accommodations for emergency situations.
Under the first phase of the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) project, which is supported by the European Union, 70 community buildings are available to temporarily shelter over 4,500 people.
"IOM and partners have provided over 100,000 households with materials to help them upgrade their own shelters,"� Manuel Pereira, IOM's Emergency Coordinator in Cox's Bazar, said.
But, he added, "weather and environmental conditions in the camps mean tens of thousands of families live with the knowledge that their shelters could be damaged or destroyed at any time."� The improved structures will allow IOM shelter and site management teams to better protect refugees affected by landslides, floods, bad weather or other unexpected events that would force them to leave their own shelters.
"If weather conditions turn bad and storms destroy our shelters, people from our area will be able to stay here safely for a few days," community representative Mohammed Nur said.
"It is a relief for all of us," he added.
The United Kingdom will fund a second phase to bolster another 100 buildings to accommodate another 10,000 people.
As the region is prone to some of the world's worst monsoon conditions " undergoing two cyclone seasons each year � IOM explained thaat the dry season offers a window of opportunity to overhaul monsoon-damaged shelters, and the facilities will also be used as temporary lodgings for affected families.
"Ensuring we have secure and stable buildings in which people can safely take shelter if disaster strikes is hugely important under such circumstances," maintained Mr. Pereira.
"This project means that even though people are living in very uncertain conditions, if the worst happens, we are still able to offer them a safe haven," he added.
Almost a million Rohingya are currently living in Cox's Bazar after escaping violence in Myanmar. In August 2017, some 500,000 people fled across the border in just a few weeks. Most Rohingya live in and around Cox's Bazar, which has become the largest refugee settlement in the world � a desperately overcrowded environment prone to landslides and flooding.