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Illegal Myanmar migrants starving in Bangladesh - Alertnet, USA

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  • Zafar Khan
    Illegal Myanmar migrants starving in Bangladesh 08 May 2005 07:09:05 GMT Source: Reuters By Nurul Islam http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/DHA8009.htm
    Message 1 of 1 , May 8, 2005
      Illegal Myanmar migrants starving in Bangladesh
      08 May 2005 07:09:05 GMT
      Source: Reuters
      By Nurul Islam

      http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/DHA8009.htm

      DAMDAMIA, Bangladesh, May 8 (Reuters) - Nearly 13,000
      Myanmar Muslims who have been living illegally in
      Bangladesh over the last decade as unlisted refugees
      are fighting a grim battle against starvation and
      disease.

      "We are just waiting for death that will relieve us of
      all pains," said Kala Miah, 75.

      The refugees, who fled west Myanmar's Muslim-majority
      Arakan state to escape alleged military persecution
      and find work, are living outside two official
      government refugee camps in the Cox's Bazar district,
      400 kilometres (240 miles) southeast of Dhaka.

      Refugees in Damdamia, 80 km from the resort town of
      Cox's Bazar, said they had no food except for some
      rice and wheat handed out by local charities every two
      or three months, and nothing to drink except rain
      water.

      Three of the refugees have died of hunger in recent
      months, and hundreds more are suffering from
      starvation and diarrhoea, fever and skin diseases,
      they said.

      Some 250,000 Rohingyas -- as Myanmar Muslims are known
      -- crossed into Bangladesh in early 1992 but most were
      repatriated by September the same year under
      supervision of the U.N. High Commissioner of Refugees
      (UNHCR).

      Since then there have been little homeward movement
      while more Rohingyas have trickled in across the
      porous 320-km Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

      More than 20,000 others now live in the two government
      camps at Kutupalong and Nayapara near Cox's Bazar.

      Bangladeshi officials say most of the Rohingyas are
      economic refugees, and that Myanmar authorities were
      not keen to take them back.

      "The repatriation process has been very slow over last
      many years though Yangon kept saying they will take
      the refugees back. But we are being continuously
      burdened to host the unwelcome guests," said one
      official who asked not to be identified.

      Members of several Bangladeshi rights groups and
      voluntary organisations who visited Damdamia on
      Saturday found conditions for the survivors were
      miserable.

      "The refugees deserve attention and care from both the
      Bangladesh government and international agencies
      because no one can deny they are human beings, too,"
      said Kazi Azizul Huq of the Centre for Development
      Studies.

      Despite requests from some international agencies,
      impoverished and overpopulated Bangladesh has said it
      will never offer the Rohingyas a permanent home.

      The government says it will not open any more camps
      for them and will try to close the two existing camps
      as soon as possible.

      "There is noone on earth or in heaven to help us. We
      have no home, no future and no dream," said Sabura
      Khatun, 45.

      (Additional reporting by Rafiqur Rahman)
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      More about Islam and Muslims in Burma at:
      http://www.islamawareness.net/Asia/Burma/



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