Rohingyas finding ways to flee Myanmar despite dangers

Naypyidaw, June 18 (IANS) Rohingyas living mainly in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state, continue to find ways to leave the country despite the risks of being abandoned at sea and tighter border controls, a media report said on Thursday.

Over 5,000 Rohingyas have disembarked in Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Thailand in May after their boats were abandoned by human-traffickers in the Bay of Bengal after Thailand cracked down on them.

Some monitoring agencies suggest that another 2,000 people might still be out at sea, Channel News Asia reported.

Rohingyas are neither accepted as citizens in Myanmar, where some million of them reside, nor in Bangladesh where around 30,000 live in refugee camps.

Many in Myanmar claim to be aware of the dangers of travelling with human traffickers but in taking the risk they are at least offered a glimmer of hope.

“Our lives will be worse if we stay here. We leave because we can expect a more comfortable life elsewhere,” said Eleias, a Rohingya in Rakhine State.

“The authorities threaten us saying that we don’t belong here, we cannot stay here, we are intruders. They are threatening us many times, including threats to our village leader. Our daily life is difficult for us.”

Eleias highlighted how the Rohingyas live every day in fear, saying Rakhine people burned down a Rohingya shop.

“There are security forces in front of the market. They are looking but don’t catch the Rakhine people. They know it, they’re seeing what they did and they set the fire and steal all the goods from ten other shops, nothing was left.”

But his accusations were completely rejected by Rakhine’s Chief Minister Maung Ohn.

“It doesn’t make sense, I don’t accept it. In Maungdaw, about 97 percent population are Bengalis. Only three percent are Rakhine people,” Maung said.

“You have to ask why the majority would be afraid of the Rakhine minority,” he added.

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