The border security force of Bangladesh has pushed back at least 133 Rohingyas to Myanmar this year, of whom 104 were sent back in March and April
Rohingyas who are being released from prisons in Myanmar are crossing over to Bangladesh through Cox’s Bazar, officials of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) have said.
Most of those who have crossed the border are staying with their relatives at the Rohingya refugee camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas of the district.
Some of those Rohingyas were pushed back to Myanmar by the BGB, but they returned to the camps again. In the last one month, at least 100 Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh illegally, BGB says.
The number of Rohingyas trying to enter Bangladesh has more than tripled in the last two months compared to the first two months of this year, BGB officials said, adding that they had intensified patrolling on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border since April 21.
"As the number of Myanmar nationals trying to cross the border has increased, our endeavours to prevent them have also increased,” BGB Director (Operations) Lt Col Faizur Rahman said. “We have doubled our patrols along the Myanmar border to prevent illegal entry.”
Referring to the aftermath of the February 1 military coup in Myanmar, a statement published on the UN Refugee Agency's (UNHCR) website on March 31 said that the situation there was forcing people to flee inside the country and across borders.
“We urgently call on the countries of the region to provide shelter and security to all those who have fled for safety,” the statement said.
Rohingyas in search for refuge
The Armed Police Battalion (APBn), which is in charge of the Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar, said 29 Rohingyas had tried to enter the camps in the past two months. Besides, 31 Rohingyas entered through the Cox's Bazar border and took refuge in the refugee camps.
According to the BGB headquarters, only 16 Myanmar nationals tried to enter Bangladesh in January, 13 in February. However, in March alone, 56 people tried to enter Bangladesh.
In April (until April 29), 48 people were pushed back, multiple sources of BGB said.
According to this estimation, BGB pushed back about 133 Rohingyas to Myanmar this year, of whom 104 were sent back in March-April alone.
The Teknaf battalion of the BGB pushed back seven infiltrators last Wednesday. All seven of them who came by boat across the Naf River were men.
Cox's Bazar BGB (34th Battalion) Commander Lt Col Ali Haider Azad said the BGB had taken a strong stance at the border. From January to April 21, the Teknaf battalion pushed back 80 Rohingyas and the Cox's Bazar Battalion pushed back 20, according to the BGB headquarters.
Mostafa Kamal, a Rohingya leader in Teknaf's new refugee camp, said there were many released prisoners whose families had already taken refuge in Bangladesh.
“That's why they want to come here. I also heard that some sick Rohingya women were coming here for treatment, because there is no treatment for them there (Rakhine state),” he said.
Myanmar's military government released a total of 23,047 prisoners, including 137 foreigners, under a general amnesty on New Year's Eve, according to several international media outlets including The Guardian and Voice of America, reported earlier in April.
"We have received information that 600 Rohingyas who have been released from prisons are trying to infiltrate the country," said Superintendent of Police (SP) Md Tariqul Islam, captain of APBn.
On Wednesday, Kabir Ahmed and his wife Begum Bahar - residents of Gajarbil in Myanmar’s Maungdaw township - entered Bangladesh through Teknaf border and took refuge in the Shalban Rohingya camp.
Upon receiving the news, the local APBn team took them into custody and sent them to the transit point for quarantine on Thursday morning.
"The couple was arrested and imprisoned by the Myanmar Army on August 25, 2017 in connection with the violence in Myanmar. Recently released from prison, they took refuge here [after coming] through the Teknaf border point. Their relatives came here and took shelter earlier,” said the APBn 16 captain.
“A family from Rakhine came to my camp in the second week of this month,” said Mohammad Alam, chairman of the development committee for the Leather Old refugee camp in Teknaf. “I do not know where they later took refuge.”
The Rohingya leader claims that the situation is not good as the army has seized power by arresting Myanmar President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. For this reason, many are trying to flee Myanmar and cross over to Bangladesh.