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in-focus

Influx, again


After a break due to bad weather and lull in violence in Rakhine, thousands stream in

The influx of Rohingyas fleeing violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state had slowed in the last few days, but thousands have started pouring into Bangladesh again.

The flow resumed after a brief pause since Monday mainly due to bad weather and lull in violence in Rakhine.

Most of the fresh refugees are from Buthidaung area and are entering Bangladesh through Anjuman Para and Rahmater Beel border points in Palongkhali union in Ukhia.

Many more are waiting on the Myanmar side to enter Bangladesh, said a number of refugees.

They did not see any fresh violence in Buthidaung, but these correspondents saw smoke rising from at least one place in Rakhine yesterday. Earlier on Wednesday, a Reuters reporter saw such smokes at two places.

However, it was not clear what caused the smoke.    

Abdul Gofur Chowdhury, chairman of Palongkhali union in Ukhia, estimated that some 10,000 refugees may have arrived yesterday through Rahmater Beel and Anjuman Para points alone.

The number would be higher if those who entered through other borders are taken into account, he added.

The UNHCR yesterday revised the total number of refugees to 4,36,000 from 4,29,000 on Friday.     

According to Gofur, some brokers are helping Rohingyas to settle in Bangladesh in exchange for money. 

“Also, Rohingyas already living here are encouraging their relatives to cross the border for safety and better treatment,” he added.

A family of seven -- five women, one man and two babies -- arrived in Anjuman Para after a 20 days' journey through hills and jungles from Buthidaung. One of them was too sick to be carried, and so they made several stopovers before crossing the border.

“I had standing crops in my field. There were around 1,000 kgs of rice in my house. They came and looted my house three days after Eid-ul-Azha. So we fled to Bangladesh with our lives,” said Amir Hakim, who is from Gopipara in Buthidaung.

He said some 20,000 people were waiting on the Myanmar side to cross the border. 

Many Rohingyas are coming through Chakdhala border point as well.

Asked about the fresh influx, an official of an international aid agency dealing with refugees said those who lived far from the border are reaching Bangladesh now.

Many of them were waiting for opportunities to enter Bangladesh. “They are now crossing the border as Myanmar military left the area,” he said, asking not to be named.

Published : September 25, 2017

By : Pinaki Roy and Mohammad Ali Jinnat The Daily Star Asia News Network