Officials from Burma and Bangladesh meet on Monday to discuss how to implement a deal signed in November on the repatriation of more than 650,000 Rohingya who have fled Burma since late August. But many say fear returning.
Sold for $130 to work as a rag picker in the northern Indian town of Mathura, Rohingya refugee Abdul Rahman lived in a tenement of stitched together polythene bags and pined for his home and the lush farmland he owned in Burma’s Rakhine State.
Health workers in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh are struggling with a shortage of medics able to administer antitoxins to patients infected with diphtheria that has killed nearly two dozen people, aid officials said.
Pope Francis ended a diplomatically tricky trip to Asia on Saturday, seeking the forgiveness of Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh after his controversial decision to not directly refer to their plight when he visited their homeland, Burma.
Pope Francis called on Thursday for decisive measures to resolve the political reasons that caused mostly Muslim refugees in Burma to flee to Bangladesh and urged countries to help the Dhaka government deal with the crisis.
Bangladesh approved a $280 million project on Tuesday to develop an isolated and flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal to temporarily house 100,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in neighbouring Burma.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Wednesday for a credible investigation into reports of human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims committed by Burma’s security forces after a meeting with its civilian and military leaders.
Many shops in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur are being used to send money to refugee camps in Bangladesh since a military crackdown in August prompted over 600,000 members of the Muslim minority group to flee Burma.
Leaders of Asian nations meeting in Manila on Monday skirted around the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims triggered by Burma’s military crackdown, disappointing human rights groups who were hoping for a tough stand on the humanitarian crisis.
Burma said on Wednesday that a UN Security Council statement on the Rohingya refugee crisis could “seriously harm” its talks with Bangladesh over repatriating more than 600,000 people who have fled there to escape a Burmese military crackdown.
Burma has blamed Bangladesh for delaying the start of a repatriation process for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees, saying it feared Dhaka could be stalling until it receives multi-million dollars of international aid money.
Two weeks since the Burmese government pledged to begin a process for the return of hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees who have fled to Bangladesh, questions about the practicality of a mass repatriation loom large.
As attention increasingly focuses on the tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims amassing at already overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh, thousands have also been displaced within Arakan State and more than 300 teachers in the conflict zone are “stranded” and in need of air-lifted evacuation.
Thousands of fearful Rohingya Muslims and Arakanese Buddhist civilians have fled the worst fighting to grip Burma’s northwest in five years, with 104 people killed and the United Nations and international aid groups forced to pull out some staff.
Muslim militants in Burma staged a coordinated attack on 30 police posts and an army base in Arakan State on Friday, and at least 59 of the insurgents and 12 members of the security forces were killed, the army and government said.
Bangladesh has stepped up patrols on its border with Burma, following reports that about 1,000 Rohingya Muslims crossed into the country in the past two weeks, amid fresh tension in its neighbour’s northwestern Arakan State.
Sources say a struggle for control of supplies to some makeshift refugee camps for Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh is behind recent violence and the presence of masked men roaming the dark streets of the camps at night.
A delegation led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees travelled to Arakan State on Sunday, visiting the troubled region less than a week after security forces there were put on high alert amid a spate of recent killings that the government has blamed on “terrorists.”
The concerns of ethnic Karen refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) were raised on Tuesday, World Refugee Day, over the lack of a clear plan for the return and reintegration of those going back to their homelands.
The number of recorded suicides and attempted suicides has soared at Thailand’s largest camp for refugees from Burma, the International Organization for Migration said on Monday as it called for urgent action to treat high levels of distress.