Bangladesh premier laments ‘burden’ of Rohingya refugees

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DHAKA, Bangladesh:  In a sharp reversal, Bangladesh’s premier on Sunday lamented the “burden” of over a million Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar to live in camps in their western neighbor.

“They have become a huge burden for Bangladesh,” Sheikh Hasina said, speaking while meeting Anne Gerard Van Leeuwen, the new Dutch ambassador in the capital Dhaka.

She expressed concerns over the ecological destruction in the country’s southern tourist hub district of Cox’s Bazar, where the refugee camps are located.

After the influx of Rohingya in August 2017, Bangladesh opened its border to the persecuted people, and Hasina declared that her country of nearly 170 million people is capable of hosting an additional one million Rohingya.

Hasina also expressed frustration over the lack of progress in repatriating the Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar, despite it having been more than four years since the massive exodus began.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed while more than 34,000 were thrown into fires, over 114,000 beaten, as many as 18,000 Rohingya women and girls raped, over 115,000 Rohingya homes burned down, and 113,000 others vandalized by Myanmar state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency.-AA

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