‘Thousands of Rohingyas stranded in no-man’s land’

Dhaka, Oct 4 (IANS) Around 10,000 Rohingyas are stranded in the no-man’s land between Myanmar and Bangladesh, where they are being aided by the International Committee of the Red Cross, local authorities said on Wednesday.

According to border authorities, a 45-metre wide area adjacent to the international boundary between the two countries is considered the “no-man’s land”, where neither Bangladesh nor Myanmar exercise effective control.

“They are waiting in no man’s land because there is hardly any space left for them here,” said AKM Jahangir Aziz, the local government representative of the Ghum Dhum border pass in Bangladesh’s Bandarban district.

“At the moment, we have 1,360 families in no-man’s land, which are roughly 10,000 people,” he was quoted as saying by Efe news.

Aziz said although Bangladesh authorities were not stopping the Rohingyas from entering the country, the refugees were better off in the no-man’s land where they were receiving aid from the ICRC.

He added that authorities had begun to transfer around 16,000 Rohingya refugees currently living in Bandarban to makeshift settlements in Kutupalong. Once the transfer is complete, they will start shifting those stranded in the no-man’s land, Aziz said.

A spokesperson for ICRC, Rayhan Sultana Toma, said the organisation was helping the stranded Rohingyas on the request of Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry and in collaboration with the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.

Meanwhile, the influx of Rohingya refugees, fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state to neighbouring Bangladesh, continued for the sixth consecutive week.

On Sunday, the UN office in Bangladesh said around 509,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh since the crisis erupted in late August.

The exodus of Rohingyas, denied citizenship by Myanmar, began on August 25, when Rohingya rebels attacked multiple government posts leading to a military offensive by the Myanmar Army.

The crackdown was called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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