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Why more Rohingyas could be living outside Myanmar as refugees than in the country after Rakhine violence

12 September, 2017 7:57 AM
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The Rohingya crisis in Myanmar is worsening every day and the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has now raised concerns that the violence against Rohingyas is a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

Since violence broke out in the Rakhine province of Myanmar on August 25, 3.13 lakh Rohingyas have crossed the border and entered Bangladesh, said the United Nations office in Bangladesh.

The mass influx of Rohingyas into Bangladesh has prompted the Sheikh Hasina government to pass a resolution in Parliament to put diplomatic pressure on Myanmar to take back Rohingyas.

Currently, there are more than 7 lakh Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, a number slightly less than the 10 lakh Rohingyas staying in Myanmar before the August 25 violence spiralled out of control.

Bangladesh's foreign ministry recently issued a statement highlighting the point that the country is already hosting nearly 4 lakh Rohingyas since the past three decades.

Add to it the over 3 lakh Rohingyas who entered Bangladesh since August 25, the number of Rohingya refugees goes beyond 7 lakh.

Some analysts estimate that nearly 10 lakh Rohingyas have fled Myanmar in the last three decades and taken refuge in countries such as Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report of 2016, more than 1.68 lakh Rohingyas fled Myanmar in the last five years due to violence and desperation.

Nearly 74,000 Rohingyas fled into Bangladesh between October 2016 and February 2017 when attacks on a border post in northern Rakhine triggered a military crackdown.

Before Bangladesh, Malaysia was the preferred destination for Rohingyas till 2015 before the sea route was disrupted as governments cracked down on maritime smuggling networks.

According to the UNHCR report, between 2012 and 2015, more than 1 lakh Rohingyas travelled on smuggler's boats, hoping to reach Malaysia.

In India, an estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslims are staying illegally while another 14,000 are registered with the UNHCR. The government has decided to deport illegal migrants back to Myanmar, a move that has been criticised by United Nations Human Rights chief.

According to UN estimates, at least 4.2 lakh Rohingyas from Myanmar were living as refugees in other Southeast Asian countries before August 25 violence. Another 1.2 lakh were identified as internally-displaced Rohingyas.

However, the recent military crackdown in Rakhine, which has triggered mass exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar, is set to alter the number of refugees in neighbouring countries. By the end of it, the number of Rohingyas outside Myanmar could well go past the number staying in Myanmar.

Also read: Myanmar hopes for deal with Bangladesh on Rohingya refugees, says Suu Kyi

Source: indiatoday.intoday.in

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