CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 August 2019

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Rohingya exodus from India to Bangladesh

DHAKA (UCAN): At least 1,000 Rohingya Muslims have crossed into Bangladesh from India since December to escape alleged harassment and imminent deportation, according to Bangladeshi officials.
 
India’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led government has drawn flak at home and from abroad in recent months over plans to deport thousands of Rohingya who have fled sectarian violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State since 2012. Officials have also been accused of mounting a campaign of harassment against the refugees, 40,000 of whom tried to settle in various Indian states including Tripura, Assam, West Bengal and Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir.
 
“For the past year, the government of India has been making life difficult for Rohingya refugees,” Ravi Nair, of the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Center, told Al Jazeera on January 16.
 
“They are subjected to regular visits by local intelligence officials, which involves harassment about their paperwork,” said Nair, who claimed at least 200 had been arrested or jailed.
 
The alleged harassment and feared deportations have prompted many to flee to Muslim-majority Bangladesh.
 
“From December until now more than 1,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh from India to avoid deportation to Myanmar,” Muhammad Abul Kalam, commissioner of Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission, explained.
 
He said they have been resettled in the existing Rohingya refugee camps, adding that their arrival was potentially troublesome.
 
“We are moving forward to resume refugee repatriation to Myanmar, so the new development is worrisome. Bangladesh and India need to come to terms bilaterally in order to resolve the issue,” he said.
 
The Inter-Sectoral Coordination Group, a coordinating body overseeing international humanitarian assistance to Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, put the number of arrivals from India at about 1,300 people.
 
India needs to be generous on the Rohingya issue, said Holy Cross Father Liton Gomes, secretary of the Catholic bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission.
 
“On the Rohingya issue Bangladesh has shown laudable generosity. But the country has limited resources and needs generous support from other nations including neighboring India,” Father Gomes said.
 
Abu Morshed Chowdhury, president of Cox’s Bazar Civil Society, a rights and anti-trafficking group said India’s actions are surprising and disappointing. 
 
“India and Bangladesh have maintained good diplomatic relations for a long time. It is shocking to see what India is doing with the Rohingya,” Chowdhury said.

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