» 03/09/2010, 00.00
MYANMAR – BANGLADESH
Thousands of Rohingya refugees facing starvation in Bangladesh
US charity sounds the alarm, claiming Bangladesh is blocking aid and medical treatment for refugees, who are locked up in open-air prisons. Rohingya are a Muslim minority from Myanmar and are persecuted by that country’s military dictatorship. Bangladeshi authorities dismiss accusations, saying, “We are the victims.”
Dhaka (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A US medical charity has warned that thousands of Burmese refugees in Bangladesh are facing starvation. Physicians for Human Rights said that government authorities in Bangladesh are preventing the Rohingya from receiving adequate care. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority who fled Myanmar to escape persecution. The government has dismissed these allegations as it did for similar reports by Doctors without Borders (MSF) last month.
The Rohingya are one of the many ethnic minorities that make up the Union of Myanmar. They live in Rakhine State, in the country’s north-west, and are among the poorest and most persecuted ethnic groups in the world. Myanmar’s military regime has denied them citizenship and refused to let them own land. It does not even allow them to travel or marry without first getting permission from the authorities.
Tens of thousands have fled, especially to predominantly Muslim Bangladesh and Malaysia. Bangladeshi authorities have granted refugee status to 28,000 Rohingya, who live in United Nations refugee camps in Kutupalong. However, government sources put the actual number at 200,000 or even 300,000.
The government in Dhaka is now cracking down to stop further mass exodus as neighbouring Myanmar prepares for elections later this year.
The report by the Physicians for Human Rights says that children will starve if aid is not delivered. It blamed local authorities for "arbitrary arrests, illegal expulsion and forced internment" of refugees.
“The government of Bangladesh is absolutely ignoring it [the refugee problem]. They are sweeping it under the rug," said Richard Sollom, director of research and investigation for the group.
Dhaka has rejected the charges. Abdul Momen, Bangladesh's representative in the United Nations said they were "totally false". Instead, he said, "Government officials just have to make sure that any aid isn't coming from terrorist groups".
"We are the victims,” he explained “an impoverished country, and in spite of that, we tried to help them as best we can.”
Last year, press reports focused on the persecution of the Rohingya by Thailand’s military. Despite Bangkok’s denials, many refugees who entered Thai territorial waters were stopped by the Thai Navy and sent back into the open sea without food and water.
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Bangladesh border guards send back boats full of Muslim women and children fleeing Myanmar army violence. The death toll in Rakhine State reaches 90 deaths and 30,000 displaced people. Myanmar and UN clash.
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A thousand of Rohingya refugees held in a reception centre in southern Thailand
The group includes 160 women and children. Their goal was to reach Malaysia or Indonesia to seek employment or rejoin family members who had already fled persecution in Myanmar. Traffickers get 2,000 dollars per person. Police arrest eight people.
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European Parliament calls on Myanmar to end "brutal repression" against Rohingya
A resolution approved yesterday says Myanmar must "as a matter of urgency ensure free and unimpeded access" for the United Nations and rights groups in Rakhine State. It also condemns “unequivocally all incitement to racial or religious hatred”.
14/04/2011 THAILAND – MYANMAR
Bangkok wants to close Burmese refugee camps as it discusses the issue with Myanmar
Nine camps along the Thai-Burmese border shelter 140,000 people from various ethnic groups, living in harsh conditions. Many have taken part in armed conflict with the Myanmar government over the years. The United Nations says repatriations should be “absolutely” voluntary.
29/01/2009 THAILAND – MYANMAR
Bangkok postpones repatriation of Rohingya refugees
The 78 refugees will be treated for wounds caused by Myanmar soldiers. Prime Minister Abhisit says he is not going to change policy on repatriation. A Myanmar official denies that a Rohingya ethnic minority even exist in his country
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Pastor of Amadiya: Mosul’s Christian refugees, torn between emergency aid and the longing to return home
P. Samir Youssef
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