Myanmar and Bangladeshi representatives visit Rohingya Muslims trapped at border

Rohingya refugees wait for food supply distribution at Balukhali camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Vastavam web: Myanmar and Bangladeshi representatives held talks about 5,300 Rohingya Muslims trapped on a strip of unclaimed land between their two countries and visited the area on Tuesday, officials and Rohingya refugees told.Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State and crossed into Bangladesh since August, when attacks on security posts by insurgents triggered a military crackdown that the United Nations has said amounts to ethnic cleansing, with reports of arson attacks, murder and rape.

“We have asked them (Myanmar authorities) to ensure their safety and security and only after that Bangladesh is ready to coordinate them,” said Bangladeshi Relief and Refugee Repatriation Commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam.“We visited the Rohingya with the Myanmar delegation and requested them to go back to their homes. They said … they are willing to return to their land, but for that they need to ensure safety and security,” said Kalam.The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, which was not involved in the talks, has expressed concern the Rohingya may be forced back to Myanmar without due consideration for their safety.

A UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic, said there was no clarity as to what the people living in the unclaimed land wanted to do.Buddhist-majority Myanmar denies accusations of human rights abuses and says its military has fought a legitimate campaign against “terrorists” it has blamed for the attacks on the security forces.The majority of Rohingya who fled are in camps in the Cox’s Bazar district of southern Bangladesh, but several thousand in the border buffer zone are stuck.