More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar to settle in grimy Bangladeshi camps after what Washington and human rights agencies described as “ethnic cleansing” in a violent campaign led by the country’s army.
During the state-sanctioned genocide, the army burned down entire villages, forcing people out of their homes.
Most of these Rohingya refugees are living in refugee camps, however, a group of 6,000 members of the ethnic community remain stranded on the border between the two countries and are living on a piece of land that doesn’t neither belongs to Bangladesh nor Myanmar.
Now, Myanmar has reportedlyasked Bangladesh to stop giving aid to the stranded group of refugees who are already living in dire conditions and completely rely on aid sent by Bangladesh.
Foreign Ministry in Dhaka, the request of halting the aid was made during a meeting Bangladeshi Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali and Myanmar’s top diplomatic envoy, Kyaw Tint Swe that took place in Naypyidaw, Myanmar.
“Myanmar particularly requested Bangladesh to stop providing humanitarian assistance to those people . . . and proposed to arrange supply of humanitarian assistance from Myanmar side,” the foreign ministry said.
Myanmar authorities also presented a proposal of conducting a survey of the strip of land. Bangladesh said it has made no commitment but “responded positively.”
The two countries agreed in November to return the Rohingya to their home country, but the refugees articulated concerns regarding their safe return and settlement and requested an international entity to overlook the process.
Later, a Myanmar official visited the no man’s land and warned the refugees of acing consequences if they didn’t agree to return back to the Rakhine State.
The group of refugees now fear the latest request by Myanmar and their attempt to halt aid will increase their hardships.
“There will be uncertainty whether Myanmar will regularly provide us with food and humanitarian assistance. If Bangladesh stops helping us from their side, we will have a huge problem,” said Dil Mohammad, a Rohingya community leader.
Since the deal was made, none of the refugees have returned to Myanmar and continue to live in refugee camps In Bangladesh’s Cox Bazar.
The Myanmar government had stated they have agreed with the UN refugee and development agencies for their assistance for the “voluntary” return of Rohingya refugees with “safety and dignity” to their “places of origin or of their choosing.”
Myanmar forces have been accused of the most violent of crimes against the Rohingya Muslim minority including rape, killing, torture, and burning homes. The government has repeatedly denied these reports, including one by Amnesty International, claiming the horrifying attacks were retaliation to insurgent attacks.
However, the ethnic Muslim minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar has long been denied basic rights and citizenship.
Spotlight, Banner: ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images