Dhaka – The ethnic violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State has forced nearly 18,000 Rohingya Muslims to cross into Bangladesh after their homes were reportedly looted and torched by the Burmese troops.
International Organization for Migration has estimated the number based on witnesses’ accounts and non-governmental organistions working in Bangladesh’s south-eastern Cox’s Bazar district for the Muslims flee their homes in Myanmar.
An official of the organization in Dhaka said that there may be potential errors in the estimate since there is no registration process for the refugees coming into Bangladesh.
Local residents in the frontier districts say the number would go higher as the influx of Rohingya Muslim is a continuous process. Those who are waiting on the zero line under the Border guards’ supervision have no other place but to cross into Bangladesh, they said.
The people already crossed the border have either taken shelter in the jungle near Kutupalong refugee camp or become guests of the Rohingya who have been living in the camp, said Josim Uddin, a resident in Kutupalong.
They are even risking their life to cross into Bangladesh, he said adding that many people are making efforts to cross the river or the Bay of Bengal by boat to reach Bangladeshi territory. But not all the time they are successful.
The Border Guard Bangladesh troopers have returned many boatloads of Rohingya as they tried to cross the Naf river that separated Bangladesh with Myanmar.
Four people have been drowned in the river on Wednesday morning as a boat carrying them was overturned, police officer Mohammad Main Uddin said.
A search operation was launched after the accident, he added.
The fresh Rohingya influx began after nearly 100 people were killed in attacks and counter-attacks between suspected militants and Burmese security forces on Friday.
International media reported that more than 1 million Rohingya live in the Rakhine State have been subjected to decades of persecution, including restrictions on freedom of movement.
More than 85,000 Rohingya Muslims entered Bangladesh after Myanmar security forces launched counterinsurgency clampdown in October last year to respond to an attack on a police post that killed nine security persons.