Bdesh under fire for refugee crackdown

DHAKA: Bangladesh has unleashed a crackdown of unprecedented violence against Muslim refugees from neighbouring Myanmar, a report by humanitarian group Medecins Sans Frontieres said today.

Described by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities on earth, thousands of Rohingyas from Myanmar’s northern Rakhaine state stream across the border into Bangladesh every year.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said authorities in Muslim-majority Bangladesh had begun a campaign of repression against unregistered Rohingyas who are estimated to number 200,000.

Those living outside of an official Rohingya camp in Kutuplaong on the Myanmar border have been subject to “unprecedented levels of violence,” the group said in a report.

“We are seeing what appears to be a violent crackdown which is driving the Rohingya out of the community,” MSF head of mission in Bangladesh Paul Critchley told AFP.

The new crackdown has also forced unregistered Rohingyas in local towns to flee to a unofficial, makeshift camp in Kutuplaong, where conditions are rapidly deteriorating, MSF said. More than 6,000 people have arrived at the makeshift camp since October, 2,000 of those in January alone, the report said.

“People are crowding into a crammed and unsanitary patch of ground with no infrastructure to support them. Prevented from working to support themselves, neither are they permitted food aid,” said Critchley.

Bangladesh recognises 28,000 Rohingya as refugees, who live in camps under the supervision of the United Nations.