Rohingya refugees enter Bangladesh through Shar Porir Dwip Island of Cox’s Bazar on Sept. 30. (Photo by Stephan Uttom/ucanews.com)
New reports of Muslim Rohingya being brutally killed in Myanmar’s Rakhine State have emerged as neighboring Bangladesh struggles to cope with more than 600,000 who have already arrived as refugees during the past two months.
A wave of attacks by Myanmar’s military and Buddhist vigilante groups since late August has slowed but not stopped, according to witnesses.
Muhammad Taher, 23, who was among the first to flee, said new arrivals have told him that five of his relatives died on Oct. 22 after being burned alive inside a house that was set on fire. Soldiers and anti-Rohingya Buddhist militants had first tied up the victims with rope, he said.
Salma Begum, 35, arrived at Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar from the Buthidaung area of Rakhine on Oct. 23 with her three sons and two daughters.
Begum said that on Oct. 21 local Buddhists told 10 families to leave their homes, but her husband refused to flee.
That night the anti-Rohingya Rakhines returned with army soldiers and killed her husband with machetes, she told ucanews.com on Oct. 25.
She and her children joined about 100 other Rohingya crossing into Bangladesh by foot and boat.
“Life is very tough here, but we can believe we won’t be killed,” she added.
According to a report of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the international community has so far pledged about US$344 million in donations for Rohingya humanitarian assistance.
The U.N. has asked member states to contribute US$434 million.
Humidor Rahman, is a local politician in the Sabarang area of Shah Porir Dwip Island of the Cox’s Bazar region of southern Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya shelter in sprawling shanty-camps.
He said while new arrivals had slowed, there is still an average of 500 more coming across from Myanmar each day.
Bangladeshi Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan, visited Myanmar Oct. 23-25 to discuss a Rohingya repatriation program promised by the country’s de-factor leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
“We have agreed to form a joint working committee with equal number of representatives from both countries and the deadline is Nov. 30,” Khan said.
Myanmar stated that working committees were examining recommendations on the crisis made by former U.N Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Among Annan’s recommendations was a review of tough citizenship restrictions imposed by Myanmar on Rohingya.
Khan said he had wanted to visit Rakhine to get first-hand experience on the situation, but Myanmar officials were unwilling to allow him to do so.
The Bangladeshi minister noted that Myanmar had agreed to remove border landmines endangering Rohingya refugees.