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3/9/2007

Bangladesh to boot Burmese refugees from camp

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 8:10 am

March 8, 2007 —About 6000 Burmese refugees living in makeshift camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazaar district have been ordered by the government to move, the United Nations office of the High Commissioner for Refugees said yesterday.

According to UNHCR, the unofficial refugee camps along the Naff River in Teknaf are set to be demolished as part of an attempt by Bangladesh’s interim government to crackdown on illegal housing.

Pia Prytz Phiri, UNHCR’s representative in Bangladesh yesterday condemned the government for ordering the refugees to move without any advanced warning.

“We understand why the government doesn’t want them living there, but to move them without having prepared any solution in advance is not very humane,” Pia Prytz Phiri said in a statement.

“These people are of concern to us and we want to help them . . . it is hard to imagine human beings living in much more deplorable conditions than those in Teknaf,” she said.

UNHCR said it had called for the Bangladesh government’s cooperation in searches for new homes for the refugees, many of which are Rohingyas from Burma’s Arakan State. The organisation said it had consistently been prevented by the authorities from helping the refugees.

Since the camps were formed in 2004, residents have faced constant pressure from the government to move.

“We are under instructions to evacuate from this place,” Noor Aysha, 25-year-old refugee was quoted by UNHCR as saying.

“They are already doing evacuations [from another section of the camp] and of course we are worried. We don’t know where to go,” she said.

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