Rohingya Refugees Moved to Higher Ground Ahead of Bangladesh's Monsoon Season

Laverne Mann
April 5, 2018

A panel advising Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi on the Rakhine crisis said Tuesday it was pleased with some developments, but rights groups cautioned members against being used to cover up alleged atrocities. The refugees, who use the firewood for cooking, have already cleared 5,000 acres of forest, Cox's Bazar deputy district administrator Mahidur Rahman said.

Almost 700,000 Muslim Rohingya fled to Bangladesh since the military launched a crackdown in Myanmar's western state in response to insurgent attacks on security forces in August, according to United Nations estimates.

The navy and coastguard had stepped up patrols in the area after the boat briefly stopped on an island off Thailand's western coast Sunday, and the passengers said they were en route to Malaysia.

"They had no connections with human trafficking syndicates", he said.

While the origin of the Rohingya has not be determined, Krabi police chief Col. Pattanachak Chakrabhan said most of the boat's occupants likely came from Myanmar's Rakhine state and had planned to take refuge in Malaysia.

Malaysia intercepted a boat carrying 56 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar off its northern island of Langkawi yesterday and will allow them to enter on humanitarian grounds.

After authorities in Thailand cracked down on regional trafficking networks in 2015, very few Rohingyas have tried to travel towards the region by boat.

About 700,000 people have fled from Rakhine state to Bangladesh since August past year, when a militant group attacked Myanmar security outposts, prompting a harsh crackdown under a "clearance operation" by authorities that killed thousands of people. There are signs that overcrowding in Bangladeshi camps could prompt many others to make similarly perilous voyages.

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In Bangkok on Monday, human rights advocacy group Fortify Rights urged Thailand and Malaysia to provide protection for Rohingya refugees in accordance with global law and standards.

The UN Security Council has been given green lights for visits this month to Myanmar and Bangladesh, where it expects to focus on the beleaguered Rohingya Muslim minority, as well as to Iraq.

The Buddhist-majority country has branded the Rohingya as illegal immigrants.

"The Thai and Malaysian authorities went so far as to tow boats of refugees out of their territorial waters, leaving them adrift at sea", the rights group said.

Rae reiterated the past view of the Liberal government - that Suu Kyi is not in charge of her country's powerful military, which once held her under house arrest and that targeting her does not address the main crisis.

The Bangladeshi government plans to move them before the monsoon season as there is a high risk of flooding and landslides. "We're happy with that and we have also requested the Russian Federation, my friend the [Russian] foreign minister so that we can work together in resolving these problems and sending these refugees back in accordance with the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Foundation report", he said.

Reported byBenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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