Burma tells Bangladesh to stop aid to Rohingya in Zero Line
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Burma tells Bangladesh to stop aid to Rohingya in Zero Line

BURMA officials told Bangladesh to cut-off life saving aid to Rohingya Muslims living on the Zero Line at a meeting between border authorities on Tuesday.

Both Burmese and Bangladeshi officials met to discuss the repatriation process of Rohingya refugees that have fled to Bangladesh in recent months. Included in the discussion were the more than 6,500 Rohingya who are trapped in the undeveloped strip of unclaimed land between the neighbouring countries, known as the Zero Line.

Deputy Commissioner of the General Administration Department in Rakhine State, U Ye Htut, said that no people should be staying in the area as it was “No Man’s Land.” He was quoted by state-run media as saying the international non-government agencies (INGOs) must stop providing aid as it was “not in accordance with the law.”

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“The matters of INGOs providing aid and entering the restricted area of Zero Line are not in accordance with the law and thus they are being informed about it,” he said, as reported by Burmese state newspaper The Global New Light of Myanmar.

While the aid agencies had not crossed the dividing river to provide support, they were indirectly supplying relief to people in the buffer zone, U Ye Htut said, telling Bangladesh’s border guard police that they must prevent this from happening.


Rohingya refugees stand in a queue to collect aid supplies in Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, January 21, 2018. Source: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

During an interval in the meeting, both the 11-member Bangladeshi delegation and the 14-member Burmese delegation visited the Zero Line where they met with Rohingya’s living in the area.

According to state media, Burmese officials have met with the community repeatedly to discuss their return to Burma, but they were “not cooperating.” Deputy commissioner U Ye Htut called their actions “politically motivated,” accusing them of “spreading fake news” and pushing to be detained by security forces in order to “create international pressure.”

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Rohingya community leader Dil Mohammad disputed this account, saying Rohingya would like to return home but they need a guarantee of their safety.

“Our no-man’s land camp demands are that there must be a safe return, we need security and all basic rights, including citizenship,” he told Reuters.

According to Bangladesh newspaper The Daily Star, Dil also alleged that Burma’s border guard police often come near the barbed-wire fences, fire blank shots and even throw bricks and empty liquor bottles at the Rohingya, instilling in them a greater sense of fear.

A bilateral deal to repatriate the nearly 700,000 Rohingya who have fled into Bangladesh since last August has been agreed, with Bangladesh handing over a list on Friday of more than 8,000 Rohingya for verification by Naypyidaw.