Rohingya fleeing Myanmar say army redoubling push to clear villages

October 4, 2017 | By | Reply More

Rohingya refugees arriving in Bangladesh amid a fresh exodus from strife-torn Myanmar have described whole villages being emptied and thousands marching to the border as security forces redouble efforts to drive remaining Muslims from their homes.

rohingya fleeing myanmarMore than 500,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled ethnic bloodshed in Myanmar in the past month and numbers are again swelling, with Bangladesh reporting 4,000-5,000 civilians now crossing the border each day after a brief lull in arrivals.

The spike in new arrivals – prompted by what Rohingya say is a fresh drive to purge Muslims still in westernmost Rakhine state – casts doubt on a Myanmar proposal aired this week to start repatriating the persecuted minority.

Rashida Begum, who arrived in Bangladesh late Monday, said local officials assured the Rohingya community for weeks they would be safe if they remained in their village.

Myanmar state media said the fleeing Rohingya had left “of their own accord” despite assurances they would be safe.

“I wanted to stay in my village,” Hasina Khatun, 25, told in the coastal border town of Shah Porir Dwip. “They (local officials) said ‘don’t go to Bangladesh. Everything will be fine’. We believed them, but nothing improved. Eventually we had to leave.”

Sumaya Bibi, a softly spoken Rohingya teenager, described more than a thousand civilians hiding along the riverbank late Monday.

She said they boarded about 10 wooden fishing boats, many overloaded and carrying mainly women and children, and drifted under the cover of darkness across the Naf where they washed up on a remote beach.

Reports are difficult to independently verify due to reporting restrictions in Rakhine.

Fazlul Haq, a local councillor in the area, said the flow of boats had almost stopped by late September but has resumed in recent days, bringing scores of Rohingya families reporting threats and intimidation by the army.

The Bangladesh government said on Wednesday that coast guard and security forces had arrested 39 people accused of charging exorbitant fares to ferry fleeing Rohingya across the Naf in night-time raids.

An official told AFP that boat owners had been charging as much as US$250 per head for the hours-long boat ride from Maungdaw to Shah Porir Dwip which normally costs around ten dollars.

The UN said Tuesday that 509,000 refugees had crossed into Bangladesh as of Sep 30.

Press journalist for HRO media – Ignacio Damigo reports.

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Category: International

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