Floods could wash away a Rohingya refugee camp in the no man’s land
The Myanmar government is building a bridge on Tambru canal close to Bangladesh’s barbed- wire border fence.
Built on Myanmar’s land, the bridge has too many pylons, which could cause waterlogging during the next monsoon season. The possible waterlogging scenario threatens to cause flash floods which could wash away a Rohingya refugee camp located in the nearby no man’s land.
The floods, if they occur, could also maroon around 10,000 local Bangladeshi people.
Refugees and local Bangladeshis living in the area have told the Dhaka Tribune that the construction of the bridge could be a new ploy by Myanmar’s government to remove Rohingyas from the no man’s land.
According to locals, there is no need for a bridge on the Tambru canal, as there are no proper roads in the region. They accused the Myanmar government of trying intentionally cause waterlogging and clear out nearby Rohingya refugees.
The Myanmar government and the army have a history of using intimidation and threats in an attempt to scare-off the refugees, and construction of the bridge could be a new such tactic.
Bangladesh and Myanmar share a border of 271km, of this, 208km is on land and the rest is on the sea. Around 5,000 Rohingya refugees have taken shelter in the no man’s land near the Tambru canal under Ghumdhum upazila of Naikhongchhari.
Following the brutal military crackdown perpetrated by the Myanmar Army on August 25, 2017, Rohingya refugees escaped their homeland and built a small makeshift slum on the banks of Tambru canal.
Despite frequent threats and intimidation, the refugees have rejected the notion of leaving the region, unless they are provided with an opportunity to return home.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Rohingya leader Dil Mohammad said: “We took shelter on this no man’s land one-and-a-half years ago. After failing to intimidate us, the Myanmar government is building an embankment on the canal under the guise of a bridge.
“They [the Myanmar government] is planning to drown us in flood water. I urge Bangladesh and the international community to help us in this matter.”
Echoing the same opinion, another Rohingya leader named Md Arif said: “This bridge will disrupt regular water flow from the canal, and flood both the Rohingya camp and Konarpara area of Bangladesh.”
Criticizing the Myanmar government’s move, local resident Nurul Absar said: “The bridge is unnecessary, because there is no road connected to it. The Myanmar government is planning to remove the Rohingya refugees by flooding the area.
“The flood will also severely affect the local people, and around 10,000 Bangladeshi people will be marooned.”
Ghumdhum Union Parishad Chairman Md Jahangir Aziz said: “The so-called bridge has too many pylons, and they will cause severe waterlogging in the next monsoon. Both the Rohingyas and the Bangladeshis are at serious risk.”
Commenting on the issue, Cox’s Bazar Deputy Commissioner Md Kamal Hossain said: “I have been informed about the under-construction bridge on Tambru canal. The Foreign Ministry of Bangladesh has been informed about the matter.”
More than 700,000 Rohingyas crossed into Bangladesh from Rakhine since August 25 last year, when Myanmar launched a brutal military crackdown which has been denounced by the United Nations (UN) as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Bangladesh, which had been sheltering another 400,000 Rohingyas prior to the fresh exodus, demanded mounting UN and global pressures on Myanmar for the safe and dignified return and security of the refugees once they return home.