Among those fleeing Rakhine province of Myanmar are also Hindu families from the Arakan region. Around 100 Hindu families from Rakhine have fled to Bangladesh following the attacks by Myanmar’s security forces.
These families have taken shelter in camps raised at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. India Today visited the camps where Hindus from Myanmar have taken refuge alongside their Muslim neighbours.
The Cox’s Bazar camp is being looked after by a few activists and social workers, who have presently turned a poultry farm into a temporary camp. With around 105 families, there are presently 550 to 600 people in this camp but the challenge is of arranging food supply for them.
HOW CAMPS OPERATE IN BANGLADESH
Sujan Sharma, the coordinator of Hindu camp committee explained the challenges. “We have informed the local administration for support but we are yet to get any help. We are relying only on United Nations Food Programme and other supplies,” Sharma said.
“We need more food from government but not much is happening. Only private organisations are helping. Government has sent only 10 kg rice and one litre oil for 100 families. UNFP has sent 25 kg rice till now. We are feeding through what we are receiving from private donations,” he added.
Even septuagenarian Sarobala said, “We came from Myanmar because of torture. But, the same is being repeated here. If we are getting food, there is no shelter even in rainfall.”
Malati, who wears sindoor and saree in Myanmar, is one of the refugees, who have fled Myanmar. She lives in the camp now. “We are living under constant threat to life. It is very dangerous situation. My father-in-law was called to other Rohingya camp and was beaten up because he asked for his dues. But, he got injuries in return,” Malati said.
WHAT BANGLADESH OFFICIALS SAY?
The Bangladesh government has said that Rohingya people coming from Rakhine will be treated as a Myanmar national and identity cards will soon be issued for each of them. Only those having identity cards are being given relief materials including food and medicines.
The Bangladesh government has deployed its army for smooth distribution of the food and other relief materials at 12 camps. But, none of those camps shelter Hindu refugees from Myanmar. Deputy Commissioner of Cox’s Bazar Mohammad Ali Hossain said, “They will be treated as Myanmar nationals and nothing else.”
“There is huge number of Rohingya people, who have entered our country. The civil administration is doing its job properly. The civil administration has limited employees, so, we have taken a decision to involve the armed forces in distributing relief materials,” he added.