Kathmandu, October 30
Nepal-India joint border security meeting held last week has decided to monitor the movement of Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees in border areas. Both countries have collected evidences that substantiate the claim that Rohingya refugees are illegally entering Nepal through border points despite efforts made by the authorities to prevent such movement.
These security lapses, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs, may pose security challenges to both countries. The joint border security meeting held last Saturday at Khakrola of Lakhimpur Kheri in the Indian state of Uttrar Pradesh decided to carefully monitor movement of illegal immigrants as well as extremist Muslim groups in border areas and share information on their activities.
Armed Police Force DSP Bishnu Prasad Bhatta led the seven-member Nepali delegation to the meeting. The six-member Indian delegation was led by Narayan Ram Khalaw, deputy commandant of Border Security Force (3rd Battalion) based in Lakhimpur, Khiri. Both the teams have forwarded the meeting’s outcomes to their respective governments.
Rohingyas are Muslims predominantly from Rakhine state of Myanmar. But the Myanmar government has denied citizenship to Rohingyas since 1982, turning them into stateless people. Since the 1970s, they have often become victims of state-led crackdowns, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee the country. Their flight from the home country intensified in 2017 when Rohingya militants launched deadly attacks on security forces of Myanmar.
Some one million Rohingyas have fled from Myanmar and are staying in different countries, including 0.7 million in Bangladesh. Some of them have entered Nepal via open border with India after the 2017 violence.
Nepal does not recognise Rohingyas, who have illegally crossed the border, as refugees. They are considered as illegal immigrants.The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has certified around 360 Rohingyas residing in Kathmandu as refugees. These refugees are residing in two camps, with one housing 183 and the other 177.
UNHCR is providing basic health support to Rohingyas living in Nepal and is sending their children to schools based in Kathmandu. The UNHCR is in the process of certifying around 40 more. But the Home Ministry says over 650 Rohingyas are living in Nepal, as some of them entered Nepal in the 1990s and 2012.
“The flow of illegal Rohingya immigrants into Nepal has lately petered out due to strict surveillance. Yet some of them may have succeeded in crossing the border clandestinely,” Ram Krishna Subedi, spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs, told THT. “We have directed our three security agencies to prevent them from entering Nepal,” he added.
In September, Indian security forces intercepted entry of Rohingyas travelling on fake visas to Nepal via Kolkata. It is said human traffickers ferry Rohingyas from Bangladesh to Nepal via India.
A version of this article appears in print on October 31, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.