Tuesday, February 20, 2018 | ePaper

Desperate run for life

More children drown in Naf River: 2 killed in landmine blasts

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Staff Reporter :
At least seven Rohingyas mostly children have drowned in boat disaster in the Naf River again as asylum seekers continue desperate attempts to reach Bangladesh amid inclement weather.
Three of the victims are women, while the rest are children, police said, adding the ill-fated persons' bodies were recovered between 8am and 11am near different pints of the Shah Porir Dwip area in Cox's Bazar district on Wednesday.
With fresh recovery of seven bodies of Rohingyas, the death toll reached 102 since the outbreak of violence on August 25. The bodies have been recovered from various areas in Bandarban and Cox's Bazar.
"The bodies were recovered from various points on Wednesday morning. We believe their boat capsized as it was making the crossing into Bangladesh," Mainuddin Khan officer-in-chare of Teknaf Police Station on Wednesday told journalists.
He said a boat carrying 12/13 Rohingyas sank in the river at Jaliapara of Shahparir Dwip area under Teknaf upazila around 10:00 pm on Tuesday.
On information, police recovered the bodies of two children at night.
"Later, five more bodies of Rohingyas were recovered from different areas stretching from Jaliapara to Shahparir Dwip till 11:00am on Wednesday," he added. Besides, landmine planted near the Pillar No 44 and Pillar No 46 along Bangladesh border in Naikhongchhari upazila of Bandarban district has killed a Rohingya villager fleeing violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state and local person.
Taslim Iqbal Chowdhury, UP Chairman Naikhongchhari sdar on Wednesday told journalists that the landmine blast killed Rohingya refugee identified as Moktar Ahmed.
"He was a son of Abdus Salam in Fakira Bazar area of Rakhine state. The another victim has been identified as Hashem Ullah, 35, son of Badiul Alam, of  Naikhongchhari sadr union," he said.       
The exodus from Rakhine state began after Rohingya militants attacked police posts on 25 August, prompting a military backlash that has sent a third of the Muslim minority population fleeing for their lives.
Exhausted Rohingya refugees crossing into Bangladesh have given accounts of atrocities at the hands of soldiers and Buddhist mobs who burned their villages to the ground.
Those who managed to reach the Bangladesh border from the burning villages in Rakhine have attempted to cross the Naf River into Teknaf aboard fishing boats.
The bodies of boat capsize victims regularly wash up on the shore. Some of the bodies have bullet wounds.
Meanwhile, two leading human rights groups slammed the United Nations Security Council for inaction over the crisis in Myanmar, where 3,70,000 Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee in a campaign described as ethnic cleansing.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International deplored the council's failure to speak out and demand an end to the violence in western Rakhine state as the top United Nations body prepared to hold a closed-door session on Wednesday, according to agency.
"This is ethnic cleansing on a large scale, it seems, and the Security Council cannot open its doors and stand in front of the cameras? It's appalling frankly," HRW's United Nations director Louis Charbonneau told reporters.
"Without some sort of public proclamation by Security Council members, the message you are sending to the Myanmar government is deadly, and they will continue to do it," said Sherine Tadros, head of Amnesty International's United Nations office.
The flow of desperate Rohingya fleeing across the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh is unprecedented in terms of volume and speed, United Nations humanitarian agencies said on Wednesday, amid calls for international support for the emergency response.
About 370,000 people have crossed the Bangladeshi border in the last two and a half weeks, according to the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM).
"UN agencies and the government were expecting the possibility that as many as 100,000 more people could come across when there were already 600,000 Rohingyas in Bangladesh. But I don't think anyone expected a mass exodus like this, unprecedented in terms of value and speed," said IOM Asia-Pacific Spokesperson Chris Lom, speaking with UN News from Cox's Bazar, a thin stretch of beach in south-eastern Bangladesh.
Lom, who is one of the UN aid workers on the ground, said the people he spoke with are "very vulnerable, traumatized."
There are "hundreds of people virtually camped out anywhere there is space. Any spare muddy piece of land or on hillside," he said, calling for a coordinated, emergency response that is fully funded by the international community to avert a humanitarian crisis.
About 60 per cent of the Rohingya refugees - some 200,000 - are children, according to Jean Lieby, Chief of Child Protection at the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Bangladesh, who is also in Cox's Bazar.
"The first thing you see here in the different Rohingya camps is the large number of children. You see children who have not slept for days, they are weak and hungry," she told journalists in Geneva by phone.

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