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DHAKA: Bangladesh will not accept any more Rohingya fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar, Mizanur Rahman, Bangladesh’s refugee relief and resettlement commissioner, said on Saturday as they reportedly flocked to the border from conflict-torn areas.

Concerns have grown in recent months that the war between Myanmar’s junta and the ethnic minority opposition Arakan Army will trigger a new wave of refugees seeking safety in Bangladesh.

Clashes between government forces under the military control of Myanmar and insurgents in Rakhine and Chin states began in late October 2023 with a multi-pronged offensive against the junta that has ruled the country since early 2021.

The majority of Rohingya – hundreds of thousands of whom fled to Bangladesh following a brutal military attack and persecution in 2017 – are from Rakhine. Maungdaw, one of the state’s most heavily Rohingya-populated areas, is under the control of the Arakan Army, which warned last week that it expected the junta to try to retake it.

“Across the border in Myanmar, there is heavy shooting and people are dying every day. Maungdaw city is a predominantly Rohingya area,” Rahman told Arab News.

“We heard that (some) Rohingyas tried to enter Bangladesh… (they) gathered at the Myanmar border, mainly near Teknaf sub-district, under Cox’s Bazar.”

More than a million Rohingya Muslims now live in squalid camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, making the coastal district the world’s largest refugee settlement.

Rahman said Bangladesh cannot accept more refugees and will not allow more Rohingya to enter the country from Myanmar.

“The Rohingya living in the Cox’s Bazar camps are very worried about the safety and fate of their relatives living in and around Maungdaw,” he said. “(But) we cannot accept more Rohingya as Bangladesh is already burdened with more than 1 million. Our position is that no Rohingya will enter our land.”

The UN estimates that 95 percent of Rohingya refugees depend on humanitarian aid, which has been declining since 2020, despite urgent calls for donations from the World Food Program and UNHCR.

The protracted humanitarian crisis has begun to affect the host community, which, despite not having signed the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, supports the Rohingya by providing not only land, but also water, electricity, health care and massive law enforcement. presence.

Bangladesh’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief estimates that the government has spent about $2 billion on maintaining refugee infrastructure since the crisis began.

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