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About 50,000 Rohingya Muslims flee from Myanmar to Bangladesh: Dhaka government

29 December 2016 22:06

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Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry says some 50,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled persecution and violence in Myanmar to Bangladesh since early October.

The Foreign Ministry in Dhaka said in a statement on Thursday that thousands of members of the ethnic minority had fled to Bangladesh since an eruption of unrest in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine in early October. Rakhine, home to the Rohingya Muslims, borders Bangladesh.

The ministry also summoned Myanmar’s ambassador to express “deep concern at the continued influx” of Rohingya Muslims.

“(We) mentioned that around 50,000 Myanmar citizens took shelter into Bangladesh since October 9, 2016,” the ministry said.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has confirmed that at least 43,000 Rohingya Muslims have taken shelter in Bangladesh since October.

Senior officials in Dhaka have also demanded early repatriation of all Myanmar’s citizens who have been living in Bangladesh for years.

Figures show some 300,000 Rohingya Muslims are living in Bangladesh, with the vast majority of them having taken refuge in makeshift settlements, official refugee camps and villages in Bangladesh’s resort district of Cox’s Bazar.

Many of those interviewed by journalists have told horrific stories of gang-rape, torture and murder at the hands of Myanmar government forces.

Myanmar’s military has launched a fresh wave of crackdown on Muslims since an alleged attack on the country’s border guards on October 9 left nine policemen dead. The government blamed the Rohingyas for the assault.

There have been numerous accounts by eyewitnesses of summary executions, rapes and arson attacks against Muslims since the crackdown began. The military has blocked access to Rakhine and banned journalists and aid workers from entering the zone.

This photo taken on October 14, 2016 shows Myanmar’s military troops and police force traveling in trucks through Maungdaw, located in Rakhine State. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations has warned that ongoing human rights violations against the Rohingyas in Rakhine could be tantamount to “crimes against humanity.”

The Bangladesh government has also come under fire for pushing back Rohingya refugees, with Muslim groups and the opposition urging the country to open its border to the displaced people.

Rakhine has been the scene of communal violence at the hands of Buddhist extremists since 2012. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands have been forced from homes to live in squalid camps in dire conditions in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The government denies full citizenship to the 1.1 million-strong Rohingya population, branding them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. However, the Rohingyas are believed to be a community of ancient lineage in Myanmar.

According to the UN, the Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

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