Bangladesh protests Burmese force buildup

Bangladesh protests Burmese force buildup

Dhaka: Bangladesh will send a protest note to Burma (Myanmar) over an increased security presence near a portion of their border where thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been sheltering just inside Myanmar, a Bangladesh border guard official said on Thursday.

The UN refugee agency has expressed concern that thousands of people staying on the strip of land, dubbed “no man’s land” because it is beyond Myanmar’s border fence but on Myanmar’s side of a creek that marks the international border, would be forcibly returned without sufficient consideration for their safety.

Nearly 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar for Bangladesh after insurgent attacks on August 25 sparked a military crackdown that the UN has said amounted to ethnic cleansing.

About 5,300 people had been staying in a makeshift camp on the border line since late August, but roughly half moved to camps inside Bangladesh after the two countries met to discuss possible repatriation on February 20. Several hundred of them have been moved back to the border line, two border guards said.

On Thursday, Myanmar soldiers and police, estimated to number more than 200, came to the border fence and appeared to be moving heavy weapons including mortars to the area, said a Bangladesh army official. [Reuters report]