US team visits Burmese refugee camps

Ukhiya, Bangladesh: A US team visited the official and unofficial Kutupalong   camps yesterday and observed the situation of the Rohingya refugees, said a refugee student from the camp.

“A three-member team of US officials, including US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan W Mozena, visited the official Kutupalong camp and they also observed the situation of the unofficial Kutupalong makeshift camp which is situated nearby official Kutupalong camp.”

The Rohingya refugees of Kutupalong camp urged US team that they have been living in bad situation in Bangladesh since over 21 years. We want durable solution and want to permanently live in a third country, said a refugee teacher on condition of anonymity.

The refugees also urged and demanded their recognition as Burma’s citizens, to stop persecution and human rights abuses of Rohingyas in Arakan State, Burma and to stop push back of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh.

A Rohingya woman said, “We fled to Bangladesh from Burma. We were unable to live in peace in our motherland Arakan State, Burma, because of persecution and human rights abuses by the Burmese government.

Another refugee woman named Liala from the unofficial Kutupalong makeshift camp said, “We are not recognized as refugees by the UNHCR and Bangladesh.”

She also said, “We don’t want to stay in Bangladesh. We will go back to our country, if we get our life security and citizenship rights as per other ethnic groups. Now, the situation of Burma is not changing and improving. Thousands of innocent Rohingya Muslims were killed and hundreds of Rohingya women including girls were raped by the Burmese security force accompanied by Moghs (Rakhines) in Arakan State, Burma. So, there is no security of life and we want permanent solution.

A refugee student named Ismail requested to the US team, “We want higher education in Bangladesh if we have to stay here long term in future.”

The US team visited the camp at about 3: 20 pm and spent half an hour and left the camp for their destination.

Today (Thursday) at about 9:30, they also visited the unofficial Leda camp (Tal) nearby Teknaf and also observed the situation of the Rohingya refugees.

However, the US team did not make any reply to the refugees’ demands. Mr Mozena told journalists that he would hold a press briefing in Dhaka today (Thursday) about the team’s visit.

Besides, the US wants to work together with Bangladesh to have a long-term solution in Burma, Alyssa Ayres, a Deputy Assistant Secretary said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a four-strong delegation of four deputy assistant secretaries to visit Burma and Bangladesh to learn first-hand about the situation in Burma’s Arakan State and the effects of the unrest on Bangladesh.

The team also went to Burma on September 7 and stayed there until September 10 and visited the areas of Rohingya Muslims and observed the recent condition of Rohingyas and Rakhine Buddhist camps in the Arakan state. They came to Bangladesh on Tuesday and stayed until today, Alyssa more added.

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