Myanmar authorities have tightened security at a town in western Arakan (Rakhine) state after the boat people remaining at a camp in Maungtaw Township fled last week, according to officials Monday.
An official from Arakan immigration department who wished to remain unnamed as he was not authorized to speak to media told Anadolu Agency that 28 people, who authorities say are from neighboring Bangladesh, escaped the temporary camp.
“All 28 boat people including women and children fled the camp last week. We informed Bangladesh authorities about it,” he said by phone.
He added that authorities do not know whether the escapees were still in Myanmar or had crossed the border.
“They frequently asked us to send them back to their country as they don’t want to be here anymore, but the Bangladesh authority is working slowly,” he said.
Myanmar has already repatriated 777 people to the neighboring country after Bangladeshi officials verified their citizenship.
They were among 1,046 people rescued at sea and from an island in southern Myanmar in May amid a crisis that saw thousands of Bangladeshi and persecuted Muslim Rohingya.
The immigration official said Monday that another 46 people had previously fled the camp near the small town of Taung Pyo, just a few kilometers from the border with Bangladesh.
“We repatriated 48 boat people to Bangladesh on Dec. 2 as the seventh round. These 28 people were the last remaining in the camp.”
Nay Myo, head of Arakan (Rakhine) police, told Anadolu Agency that security has been tightened in Maungdaw since last week’s escape.
“Because we don’t want unnecessary troubles in the area where the situation is not stable yet,” he said, referring to a series of communal violence between Buddhist and Rohingya that has left more than a hundred people dead and thousands homeless – mostly among the minority — since mid-2012.
Thousands of migrants, mostly Rohingya and Bangladeshis, have been migrating to Southeast Asian countries, often using the services of people smugglers or traffickers.
Thousands were left stranded at sea after a Thai crackdown on people smugglers in May scared gang leaders into abandoning boats crowded with men, women and children.
Note: Changes have been made, Anadulo Agency is not responsible for these.
Source: Anadulo Agency