[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

Bangladesh says may seal off Burma

Subject: Bangladesh says may seal off Burma refugee camps

Bangladesh says may seal off Burma refugee camps

26 August 1997
Web posted at: 00:42 JST, Tokyo time (15:42 GMT) 

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, Aug 25 (Reuter) - Bangladesh said on Monday it might 
seal off camps housing some 21,000 Burmese Moslems to stop clandestine food 
reaching the refugees. 

"We have tightened security around the Nayapara and Kutupalong camps and may 
seal them off completely," one government official said. 

They said they had to "plug illegal channels" for sending food to the refugees 
and end outside interference that "often ignites unrest in the camps," the 
official told Reuters in Chittagong. 

More than 12,000 refugees at Nayapara have refused rations since July 21 in 
protest against alleged attempts by Bangladesh to send them home by force. 

More than 8,000 refugees at Kutupalong, although accepting rations, have 
voiced support for the Nayapara refugees who have asked to stay in Bangladesh 
until Burma's military rulers are replaced by a democratically elected 

The officials said the refugees would have softened their stance and received 
rations if they had no clandestine supplies. 

"It's not possible for anyone, especially the children and the old, to survive 
without food for more than a month," one official said. 

"They are not only alive but have enough physical strength to agitate and even 
attack security men," he added. 

But he said the government had no plans to starve the refugees into 
submission. "We are ready with food and other help, but they are not accepting 
them," he said. 

The 21,000 refugees are remnants of some 250,000 Burmese Moslems, known as 
Rohingyas, who fled west Burma's Arakan province in early 1992 to escape 
alleged military persecution. 

The majority returned to Burma under the supervision of the U.N. High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 

Bangladesh says the Rohingyas are economic refugees who must go back but that 
no one will be pushed back against their will. 

The refugees, apparently not satisfied by such promises, clashed with police 
on July 20, forcing the repatriation process to be suspended. 

Dhaka is negotiating with Rangoon to extend a repatriation deadline for some 
7,000 Rohingyas whom Burma had already cleared for returning. 

The deadline expired on August 15, officials said.