UNHCR Spokesperson Advocates for Sped-Up Vetting Process for 15,000 Rohingya Refugees into Bangladesh
The UN refugee agency urges lower levels of border screening for the 15,000 Rohingya refugees who remain stranded near Bangladesh’s border after fleeing from Myanmar through the Anjuman Para border crossing point in the country’s southeastern Ukhia district.
Escaping from widespread hunger and a wave of Buddhist mob attacks referred toas “ethnic cleansing” by the United Nations, refugees travel for days through waste-deep water in attempts to reach the border, with children and household belongings strapped to their backs.
UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic was the one to urge Bangladesh to reconsider its border security screenings during a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. He stated in his appeal that many Rohingya people initially chose not to leave their homes, despite constant threat of violence erupting, but were later obliged to after their villages were burned down.
Today, the refugees face delays due to Bangladeshi border security officials’ screenings, who claim that the screening process falls within the nation’s rights to ensure that no refugee poses a threat to Bangladeshi security.
“UNHCR is advocating the Bangladesh authorities to urgently admit these refugees fleeing violence and increasingly-difficult conditions back home. Every minute counts given the fragile condition they’re arriving in,” UNHCR’s Mahecic pleaded.
Since violence broke out in Myanmar’s Rakhine district on August 25th, when Rohingya insurgent attacks sparked a devastating response from the military, it is estimated that 528,000 refugees have fled to Bangladesh, with children accounting for nearly 60% of this population.
As stated by Reuters, an international news agency, refugees are accusing security forces of, “arson, killings, and rape”. Myanmar government officials reject these allegations, claiming instead that the insurgent attackers are terrorists guilty of committing horrific atrocities themselves.
Despite UN agencies having contributed in the assistance of the situation, through UNICEF’s daily provision of water to 40,000 people in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh and the UNHCR’s plan to complete a new transit center of 1,250 person capacity in Bangladesh’s Kutupalong camp, these actions have not yet resulted in a significant improvement in the situation. The root of the problem persists regardless: a lack of food, security, and water access within Myanmar.
In addition, international pressure is complex when applied to Myanmar’s political status as Western governments risk complicating the relations with the nation, thus negatively impacting its ongoing democratic transition. Notwithstanding the fact that the EU has moved to reject the possibility of further interfering with Myanmar’s military agreements, their actions are considered largely symbolic of their incapability of resulting in any noteworthy positive change.
In terms of the Rohingya refugees who successfully enter into Bangladesh, their situation remains a precarious one, for finding shelter and work within the nation’s host communities are issues of another nature which still lie ahead.
Hopefully, international organizations and national governments will be able to collaborate so as to find a solution which may end the growth of such a humanitarian crisis.