Dozens of Rohingya stuck in limbo on Bangladesh-India border

Published 22.01.2019 00:17
Updated 22.01.2019 16:18

Bangladesh has denied entry to 31 Rohingya Muslims trying to enter from India and they are stuck in no-man's land on the border, Bangladesh authorities said Monday, as India cracks down on members of the community.

The stranded Rohingya, including women and children, had been living in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, according to a Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) official who said he had seen some of their identity cards issued by the U.N. refugee agency in India. The 31 had been stuck on Bangladesh's border with northeast India since Friday, said the BGB commander in the area, Golam Kabir. "We stopped them as they were crossing the border," Kabir told Reuters by telephone. "They've been on the zero line since the 18th of this month," he said, referring to the border. Two rounds of talks on what to do with the 31, with India's Border Security Force on Sunday, had "ended without any conclusive decision," Kabir said.

The roundups in India, and fear of deportation to Myanmar, have driven even more of the stateless Muslims into Bangladesh, where a million Rohingya live in giant refugee camps in the country's southeast. At least 1,300 Rohingya Muslims have crossed into Bangladesh from India since the start of the year, an official said last week.

New Delhi has faced sharp criticism for turning members of the persecuted minority over to Myanmar in recent weeks, despite the army there being accused of atrocities against the Rohingya. The United Nations and rights groups accused India of disregarding international law and returning the Rohingya to possible danger in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. India, which is not a signatory to the U.N. Refugee Convention, arrested 230 Rohingya in 2018, the most in years as Hindu hardliners called for the displaced Muslims to be deported en masse. Amnesty International, among other rights groups, has blasted India for forcibly repatriating the Rohingya to Myanmar when persecution in Rakhine is ongoing.

Indian officials say around 40,000 Rohingya are living in India. The U.N. refugee agency says around 18,000 Rohingya are registered with the UNHCR. At least 720,000 Rohingya fled the bloody crackdown and entered Bangladesh to join some 300,000 already living in the camps. Dozens of Rohingya were also deported from Saudi Arabia to Bangladesh last week. Rohingya Muslims are the most persecuted minority in the world according to U.N. figures and continue to suffer from oppression under the Myanmar government, the army and Buddhist extremists. Over the past decade, thousands of Rohingya have been killed since violence broke out in 2008, causing hundreds of thousands to flee their homeland for Bangladesh, Malaysia and other countries in the region.

Although the numbers are contested, it is known that thousands of people have been killed in the last few years, while more than a million had to flee. The Myanmar army has set Rohingya villages on fire, bulldozing many of them and even uprooting trees and farms to make the area uninhabitable.

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