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Bandarban refugees on the verge of food shortages, locals fear

  • Published at 04:32 pm February 9th, 2019
Redase Rakhain flee from Myanmar with his three children and took shelter in Bandarban Dhaka Tribune

Local residents of the region are providing the Myanmar nationals with food from the very beginning and that includes one meal a day which consists of rice, potatoes, and various saplings

Locals in Bandarban’s Ruma upazila fear food shortages, if the refugees are not provided with ample amounts of food supply by the district administration.

They made the remarks on Saturday, adding that the situation may become worse in the coming days.

According to government information there are 160 Myanmar nationals, but according to unofficial information, there are 203 of them seeking refuge in Bandarban at the moment.

Local residents of the region are providing the Myanmar nationals with food from the very beginning and that includes one meal a day which consists of rice, potatoes, and various saplings. They are sharing a meal of one between four or five people, barely scraping by. Now they fear food shortages if the authorities do not take quick action.

Also Read- Rakhine insurgent group bringing refugees into Bangladesh

They are also providing the refugees temporary shelter in tents as well, but the area is remote, the villagers are poor, and they can only do so much.

The refugees are currently staying at the Pranksha union’s ward 7 unit in Chaikhong para.

Redase Rakhine, 35, one of the Myanmar refugees, speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, said: “We are getting food from the locals here, but at the same time we are worried that the food supply from them may run out soon.”

After an attack was carried out by helicopter in the last week of January, the Myanmar nationals took shelter at Chaikhong para, after walking for two and a half days.

Asha Mongshe, 45, from Khamongwa para of Myanmar, said: “We escaped our home and took shelter here to save our lives.”

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A resident of Choikhon para, seeking anonymity, said: “We live here with our families with great difficulty; our only income comes from cultivating jhum, which is not even sufficient for us. We will soon have food shortages of our own, if the government does not provide them (refuge seekers) with adequate food supplies.”

Remakri Pangsha Union Chairman, Mui Suey Thui, said: “There is a border with Myanmar at our Bara Madak area; no push in has taken place from there yet. But if it does, we will face more problems.”

Van Long Bom, member of ward 3 in Ruma upazila’s Remakri Pangsha union said : “we will be in trouble if the Myanmar nationals stay here for a long time.  They might cut down crops and build houses, which will eventually have a negative impact on our food source and income.”

A team comprised of 30 men of the Bangladesh Army and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), are stationed in the area at the moment, but as there is no government instruction, no food has been supplied to the refugees yet.

Also Read- Myanmar soldier detained in Bandarban

Meanwhile, Bandarban Superintendent of Police (SP) Md Zakir Hossain said: “We have increased police surveillance to stop more people from entering Bangladesh through the Myanmar border. Police, Army, and BGB are on high alert so that the law and order situation remains normal in the region.”

When did the Myanmar nationals start coming in?

On February 2, the Rakhine insurgent group from Myanmar, the Arakan Army brought 163 Buddhist refugees from the Chin State in Myanmar into Bangladesh. Around 203 Myanmar nationals have entered Bangladesh in the last few days.

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