Rohingya sheltering in no-man's land seek UN protection amid shelling from Myanmar

The community called on the UN to ensure their safety amid a string of violent incidents at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border

Cox's Bazar
Published : 20 Sept 2022, 12:12 PM
Updated : 20 Sept 2022, 12:12 PM

A Rohingya community taking refuge in a strip of land along the Bangladesh-Myanmar frontier has called on the United Nations to ensure their safety amid a recent string of violent incidents near the border.

On Monday, residents of the Konapara camp, situated in no-man's land along the Tumbru border in Bandarban's Naikhongchhari Upazila, sent a letter to the UN outlining their concerns.

It came just three days after a Rohingya teenager was killed and at least five others injured when a mortar fired from Myanmar hit the refugee settlement at the border's zero line. A Bangladeshi man was also injured in a ‘mine’ explosion near the border in Bandarban's Ghumdhum.

Reports coming out of Myanmar indicate a full-blown armed conflict has broken out between the country’s military, officially known as Tatmadaw, and the Arakan Army, insurgents fighting for self-determination for ethnic minorities in Rakhine state, also home to over a million Rohingya who have taken refuge in Bangladesh.

Addressing the matter, Dil Mohammad, a community leader, said: "We have informed the UN in a letter that the Myanmar junta could launch a bigger attack on us at any moment."

Caught in the crossfire between Myanmar's military and the rebel forces, the Rohingya community sheltered at the zero line urged the UN to take immediate measures aimed at protecting them, according to Dil.

They also formed a human chain inside the camp on Monday to protest the death of 17-year-old Mohammed Ekbal in the mortar strike.

As many as 4,200 Rohingya are currently residing at the camp in Konapara after fleeing persecution by the Myanmar army in their homeland in 2017. The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) is overseeing their welfare.

In the letter, the Rohingya also demanded a safe and dignified return to their homeland on the UN's watch.

The armed struggle along the border has raged on for the last three weeks and intensified recently after the rebels killed 19 junta police officers and captured a police outpost in Maungdaw Township near the border.

On Aug 28, two mortar shells from the military-ruled country also landed in Bangladeshi territory, prompting Dhaka to summon the Myanmar envoy in Bangladesh to issue a statement condemning the action.

The border strikes have been keeping residents of the Bandarban frontiers on edge for several weeks.

Earlier this month, Myanmar military aircraft and helicopters also crossed the border into Bangladesh and opened fire.

Bangladesh has since moved to tighten security on the border. Myanmar's ambassador in Dhaka was summoned a further three times to lodge protests over the cross-border shelling.

On Monday, Myanmar held a meeting with Bangladesh's ambassador to the country in which it blamed the Arakan Army and the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Group for the incidents along the border.

It also expressed a willingness to work with Bangladesh to maintain tranquility along the border and stressed the significance of "full and reciprocal cooperation" in that regard.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher