Myanmar’s Rohingya stuck in Bangladesh’s ‘no man’s land’

March 31, 2018 | By | Reply More

Between rickety shacks and sewage-contaminated paths, there are children engaged in skipping games or playing with water from hand pumps, while adults sit and chat nearby.

myanmar-rohingya-stuckBut behind their makeshift homes, there’s a razor-sharp fence, and behind that, watchful members of the Myanmar Border Police.

Dil Mohammed looks through that fence every day hoping that soon he will be allowed to go back to his village on the other side of the barrier in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

The irony is he is technically inside Myanmar territory, but he’s not allowed to walk through the checkpoint to go home.

He is not alone. More than 5,000 Rohingya Muslims have taken shelter on what is called the “no man’s land” – a small strip of land along the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

They were among the first batch of nearly 700,000 Rohingya who fled following attacks on their homes in August last year.

The camp at Tombru checkpoint, about 45km (28 miles) from Cox’s Bazar, is separated from Bangladesh by a small canal. It is formally within Myanmar’s territory – but fenced off from the rest of the country.

Displaced Rohingya who have taken shelter there are allowed to cross into Bangladesh for food rations and healthcare – but are barred from returning to Myanmar.

I had to cross four Bangladeshi border guard checkpoints to reach the heavily guarded area. I was not allowed on to Myanmar’s territory- so I asked Mr Mohammed and his fellow residents to meet me on the Bangladeshi side.

At the camp, the Rohingya have set up shacks made up of bamboo poles and plastic sheeting – but living conditions are still dire – with sewage running alongside the pumps that provide drinking water.

Noorussan, one of the women in the camp, says she fled her village while the Myanmar military shot at her and her family.

“Life here in the camp is difficult,” she told. “It is very hot here and difficult to get firewood for cooking. Sometimes doctors from Unicef visit here – otherwise there are no medical facilities.”

Just behind the fence is a small hill which houses the guard posts of Myanmar’s Border Guard Police. There are numerous checkpoints on a mud road which runs along the fence.

Press journalist for HRO media – Ignacio Damigo reports.

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Category: International

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