Buddhist Refugees from Myanmar: They're in need of urgent aid | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 09, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:58 AM, February 09, 2019

Buddhist Refugees from Myanmar: They're in need of urgent aid

UNHCR worried over violence in Chin, Rakhine states, urges Bangladesh to allow refugees in

The Buddhists from Myanmar's Chin state, who took shelter in a remote hilly area of Ruma upazila early this week, have been suffering from shortage of food, clothes and medicine amid cold weather.

Local government representatives said residents of Cheih Kaying Para were providing the refugees with some food and clothes, but it was very inadequate.

“The refugees are facing a crisis because of shortage of food and water supplies. The villagers of Cheih Kaying Para are not solvent to help the Myanmar nationals,” Aung Thoai Ching Marma, chairman of Ruma upazila, told The Daily Star.

He said they were waiting for a government decision in this regard.

Some 200 Buddhists fled Chin state on February 4-5 following intensified fighting between Myanmar army and rebel group Arakan Army, officials said.

Their arrival in Bangladesh takes place at a time when the country is struggling to cope with the burden of over a million Rohingyas. Of them, some 750,000 have taken shelter in refugee camps in Cox's Bazar since August 2017 following a military crackdown in Rakhine.

Jira Bawm, chairman of Remakree Prangsha Union Parishad, yesterday said the refugees in Cheih Kaying Para were mostly children and women. They were suffering in cold weather as most of them were staying under the open sky.

“Only the locals are providing with some help as aid agencies are yet to come forward,” he told The Daily Star.

He said some more people from Myanmar's ethnic communities gathered on the zero line at Ruma border. However, the BGB, didn't allow them in, the UP chairman added.

Win Thein, a rights activist in Ruma, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that he met the displaced people who trekked for a couple of days to reach Rekmari. He said he had to take a boat trip from Ruma town and then make a six-hour trek to reach there.

Quoting the displaced people, Win Thein said Myanmar military torched homes in Kha Maung Wa and Kin Tha Lin villages in the upper Paletwa region in Chin state last week.

A group of 124 ethnic Chin arrived in Bandarban's Ruma on Sunday. The following day, 126 Arakanese people from various villages entered the same area, he told The Irrawaddy.

'ALLOW FLEEING PEOPLE TO ENTER BANGLADESH'

The UNHCR yesterday called on the Bangladesh government to continue to allow people fleeing violence in Myanmar to seek safety in Bangladesh.

“UNHCR is aware of reports of escalating violence and a deteriorating security situation in southern Chin State and Rakhine State. This has reportedly led to internal displacement and a number of new arrivals from Myanmar seeking safety in the Bandarban border region of Bangladesh,” UNHCR Spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said.

Speaking at a press briefing in Geneva, he said the UN refugee agency was deeply concerned about the humanitarian impact of continuing violence in Myanmar and the potential for both further internal displacement and the outflow of refugees.

As part of inter-agency efforts, Mahecic said UNHCR stands ready to support the humanitarian response in the affected areas in Myanmar.

The UNHCR has also offered its support to the Bangladesh government to assess and respond to the needs of people who have arrived seeking safety from violence in Myanmar.

Mahecic said his agency was grateful to the Bangladesh government for its generosity and the leadership it showed in receiving more than seven lakh refugees from Myanmar since August 2017.

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