Rohingyas trying to enter Bangladesh as fighting continues in Myanmar

People gather to see a body washed ashore at Balukhali area in Ukhiya upazila of Cox's Bazar on 11 February.
Jewel Shill

Rohingya people from Myanmar are waiting along the border to enter Bangladesh as conflict rages in their country.

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) members remain on high alert to stymie any attempt by Rohingyas to enter Bangladesh illegally.

Local public representatives said around 200 Rohingyas on several boats are waiting on the other side of Naf river to infiltrate into Bangladesh.

On 6 February, law enforcers arrested 23 armed Rohingyas along the border at Rahmater Beel area in Cox’s Bazar’s Ukhiya. Remand hearing of these Rohingyas are supposed to take place at Cox’s Bazar judicial magistrate court today.

At present, 1.25 million Rohingyas are living in 33 shelter camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf of Cox's Bazar. Of these, 800,000 were displaced in the months after 25 August in 2017 by the persecution of the Myanmar army in Rakhine. Within six years of the influx, a single Rohingya could be sent back to Myanmar.

Meanwhile, the police recovered the body of an unidentified person with helmet, gloves and bullets on his head under a bridge in Balukhali Telipara area of Ukhiya Upazila of Cox's Bazar yesterday afternoon. Another body recovered from the Ukhiya border on Saturday could not be identified. The body was buried as an unidentified person.

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Clashes have been taking place between Myanmar’s frontier force Border Guard Police (BGP) and insurgent group Arakan Army on the other side of Naikhongchhari border since 2 February. The Arakan Army has reportedly taken over Tumbru right camps and Dhekibonia border outposts from the BGP. Intermittent firing and shelling have been going on since Sunday night.

Amid the clashes in Myanmar, earlier two people were killed in Bangladesh territory as a mortar shell fell at a kitchen of a house at Jalpaitali village under Ghumdhum union in Naikhongchhari. One of the victims was a Bangladeshi woman while the other was a Rohingya man.

Also, around 330 Myanmar citizens including BGP members and customs officers fled their country and entered Bangladesh. They are currently under the custody of the BGB.

Several hundred Rohingyas trying to cross border

Locals said Rohingyas were spotted on several dinghies in the Naf river during the daytime. They could not enter Bangladesh due to the vigilance of BGB and Coast Guard members. They were waiting to enter Bangladesh at night.

Locals said Rohingyas are at risk as clashes have been going on between insurgent group Arakan Army and BGP at Shilkhali and Bolibazar areas in Myanmar.

During a spot visit yesterday, some Rohingyas with small dinghies were seen at Naf river on the opposite side of Teknaf’s Majherpara, Uttarpara, Konarpara, Lombabeel, Unchiprang and Kanjharpara. They were trying to cross the border. They were dispelled when the BGB blew the whistle.

Some small boats can be seen on the other side of the river from our area. Every boat has 15-20 people onboard. It can be assumed that they are trying to infiltrate into Bangladesh
Nur Hossain, a local resident

Nasir Hossain, a resident of the Lombabeel area, told Prothom Alo, “Some small boats can be seen on the other side of the river from our area. Every boat has 15-20 people onboard. It can be assumed that they are trying to infiltrate into Bangladesh.”

According to BGB and Coast Guard sources, four-five boats carrying Rohingya people were sent back to Myanmar while they were trying to enter Bangladesh. At the same time, BGB detained 10 Rohingyas from the Teknaf border and pushed them back while they tried to enter Bangladesh illegally.

Gofur Chowdhury, chairman of Palangkhali union parishad in Ukhiya, said, “No Rohingyas would be allowed to enter at Rahmater Beel border. We handed over 23 armed Rohingyas to the BGB on Tuesday morning. We are on alert at the border.”

Nur Ahmed Anwari, chairman of Whykong union parishad, said Rohingyas are trying to enter Bangladesh in the border areas of his area. BGB arrested six Rohingyas and sent them back to Myanmar in the last three days.

Nur Ahmed said he heard some Rohingyas are waiting at Naf river and asked the members of union parishad to remain alert so that no Rohingyas can enter.

Several Majhis (leaders) of Balukhali and Unchiprang shelter camps said a clash has been going on over taking control of Chakmakata, Kwangchimon and Kumirkhali outposts in Myanmar for the last several days. Several hundred Rohingyas live in these areas.

BGB’s public relations officer Md Shariful Islam told Prothom Alo on Sunday evening that BGB members are vigilant to dispel any infiltration of Rohingyas. Many Rohingyas have already been sent back.

Coast Guard Teknaf station commander Lutfur Lahil Majid also told Prothom Alo that the coast guard remains on alert to ensure no Rohingyas can enter Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, police recovered the body of an unidentified person from the Balukhali bridge area along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Ukhiya upazila of Cox's Bazar district on Sunday.

Ukhiya police station’s officer-in-charge Shamim Hossain told Prothom Alo that the locals spotted the decomposed body floating in a canal connected to Naf river and called the police.

He said the person had a helmet and hand gloves on.

A case has been filed in this connection, the OC added.