Illegal Myanmar migrants starving in Bangladesh - Alertnet, USA
- Illegal Myanmar migrants starving in Bangladesh
08 May 2005 07:09:05 GMT
By Nurul Islam
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
"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
Three of the refugees have died of hunger in recent
months, and hundreds more are suffering from
starvation and diarrhoea, fever and skin diseases,
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
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
"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
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
(Additional reporting by Rafiqur Rahman)
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