News / Asia

UN: Bangladesh Should Shelter Burma's Rohingya

Rohingya Muslims who fled Burma to Bangladesh sit in a boat after being intercepted  by Bangladeshi border authorities in Taknaf, Bangladesh, June 13, 2012.Rohingya Muslims who fled Burma to Bangladesh sit in a boat after being intercepted by Bangladeshi border authorities in Taknaf, Bangladesh, June 13, 2012.
Rohingya Muslims who fled Burma to Bangladesh sit in a boat after being intercepted  by Bangladeshi border authorities in Taknaf, Bangladesh, June 13, 2012.
Rohingya Muslims who fled Burma to Bangladesh sit in a boat after being intercepted by Bangladeshi border authorities in Taknaf, Bangladesh, June 13, 2012.
Lisa Schlein
GENEVA - The United Nations refugee agency is appealing to Bangladesh to keep its borders open to Rohingya refugees fleeing ethnic strife in Burma.  The UNHCR says it has credible reports that Bangladeshi security forces are pushing back refugee boats when they arrive on their territory.

United Nations refugee spokesman, Andrej Mahecic, says the UNHCR is deeply concerned that people fleeing violence in Burma’s Rakhine State are unable to seek asylum in neighboring Bangladesh.  He says the desperate situation of the minority-Rohingya Muslims is being made worse by their inability to find a safe, secure refuge.  
“We have a situation where we have first-hand reports of the Bangladeshi security forces turning the arrivals by boat," Mahecic said. "There are now a number of boats adrift in the mouth of the Naf River.  We have been talking to the Bangladeshi authorities and we hope that Bangladesh will, in line with its long tradition of hospitality with the people from Myanmar [Burma], will allow access to a safe haven and to assistance for these people.”
Mahecic says people on board these vessels are in desperate need of water, food and medical care.  Bangladeshi guards reportedly have turned back many boats carrying hundreds of people.  
Bangladesh has stepped up security along its 200-kilometer border with Burma to prevent an influx of Rohingya refugees.  Bangladesh, for years, has borne the brunt of the forced displacement of these people caused by earlier crises in Burma.  

Earlier this week, Bangladesh's foreign ministry said it is not in the country's best interest to allow more Rohingyas into the country.

A total of 300,000 Rohingya live in Bangladesh.  About one-tenth are sheltered in two official camps in the country's southern district of Cox’s Bazaar.
Deadly ethnic clashes between the Rohingya and Buddist Rakhine minority flared up in Burma’s Rakhine state one week ago.  An estimated 30 people have been killed in the violence.  
Mahecic says a U.N. team traveled to the affected region this week to assess the situation.
“The team saw smoldering villages. Based on what we saw, we consider that the displacement could be considerable. The government estimates that some 30,000 people have been displaced. There are efforts under way to calm the situation. The situation is tense still,” he said.  
The U.N. spokesman says the refugee agency was forced to temporarily withdraw its staff from the area last week because of the dangerous situation. 

Mahecic says he hopes it will be possible for the staff to return soon to monitor the situation on the ground and to provide essential needs to the displaced.

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Comment Sorting
by: John C. Kimbrough from: Brooklyn, New York
June 16, 2012 2:30 PM
Having lived, worked, studied and travelled in Asia for the last 24 years, I am sad to say that I found very little compassion, understanding and enlightenment among the people, races, ethnic groups and nationalities in and of the various countries there. If the various people are not fighting among themselves within their own societies, cultures and countries, they are fighting with people of other societies, cultures and countries.....There is way too much hatred against others. But there is no reason on the part of myself or anyone else to point a finger at Asia. This has been and is going on in Africa, South America, North America and Europe.....We are not wise as humans and not open to the suffering and hardships of others......We should be because we all have the gift of life to be thankful for and build on..............
In Response

by: Sagar
June 16, 2012 11:00 PM
Sophisticated, but would you please tell me, what is the main cause of such dispute? Ain't it the misunderstanding of religious theme? More people had died cause of religion or ethnic concept than any all other reasons ever. Man created such religion for their sake and in their hopeless period, now it should over and we should depend on us not to be thankful to any utopian power for a solution.

by: Anonymous
June 16, 2012 6:25 AM
UN need to go Myanmar now and help all refugees... Where is human rights, Wher is USA.....

by: Peter from: USA
June 15, 2012 8:58 PM
First thing after uncensoring is hatred against another? Democracy and freedom is a good thing but not good if turned to hatred. Rule of law must first apply before democracy can be truely implemented

by: Moin Malik from: USA
June 15, 2012 2:46 PM
So the Prophetess of Peace, Madam Suu Kyi has nothing to say about Rohingyas. If nothing, like her countrymen, she could have expressed indifference or hatred for Rohingyas. No one is going to snatch her Nobel Prize,
In Response

by: MH from: USA
June 18, 2012 5:27 PM
Try to read a little more than write such comments. Do you think that whether to accept Rohingya can be decided by one person only? Do you think that rest of Burma going to accept Rohingya as ethnic? The problem here is not about Rohingya getting citizen or not - that depends on immigration laws (now there's no law in burma so not only rohingya but the rest of burmese ethnics are also having trouble) . Anyone as a migrant can become a citizen in a country and get the same rights as others. Rohingya problem is they try to get ethnic status when they are actually immigrants and not ethnic (burma has many chinese and indian citizens who do not claim themselves ethnic but just integrated into the society). If you are in USA you should know being legal immigrant is a path to citizen in future. So, why Rohingya trying to push for ethnic status ? - it create suspicions from Rakhine and Burmese alike that they are pushing for ethnic status because later they will ask for land/seperation using terrorist techniques. They have done before - look up on internet - they killed over ten thousand ethnic Rakhines and buddhist monks in the past. That's how they get themselves into this stage of being hated by others in the country. Please don't get blinded by the photos/media which do not provide whole history of this affair. For the long term future of burma, this issue must be treated carefully but enacting proper immigration/civil rights law. Rohigya should drop ethnicity claim and join the rest by pushing for law reforms, and also stop breeding mouths they cannot feed.
In Response

by: Anonymous
June 16, 2012 6:32 AM
She is greedy for Nobel prize... she has no feelings about her country peoples...those are loss their's house and out of the country ... When her country peoples are burning that time gone to Europe ... This all are packed game ...

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