A senior Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry official said on Wednesday that Myanmar’s envoy was summoned late Tuesday after clashes between security forces and a Buddhist rebel group forced people from Rakhine Buddhist and other tribal groups to flee to Bangladesh.
"The number is increasing. Some people are already waiting on the border and they may also enter. We have asked them (Myanmar) to take effective and urgent steps so that violence is stopped," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity, without giving a figure.
According to a Bangladesh border guard official, the refugees had crossed the frontier in a remote hill area of Bandarban district in southeastern Bangladesh, Presstv reported.
The country is already struggling to cope with more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017, when Myanmar’s armed forces, backed by Buddhist extremist mobs, intensified a crackdown that had already been underway against the Muslim community in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
Thousands of Rohingya Muslims were killed, and others only survived by fleeing to Bangladesh. The country was already home to 300,000 refugees who had fled earlier violence in Rakhine.
Now Myanmar’s Buddhists, who constitute the majority in the country, are in conflict with the military they backed to drive out the Rohingya just 18 months ago.
The Arakan Army (AA), a Buddhist rebel group calling for greater autonomy for Rakhine, conducted raids on police border posts on January 4. Thirteen people were killed by the rebel group. The army says 13 militants have been killed in retaliatory attacks while the United Nations says the violence left at least 5,200 people displaced.
The clashes have added a new, complex dimension to the troubles in Rakhine.
Rakhine has been the scene of communal violence since 2012. Many Muslims have been killed while tens of thousands have been forced to flee as a result of attacks by Buddhists. The refugees largely live in camps in dire conditions.
The Rohingya trace their presence in Rakhine back centuries, but most people in Buddhist-majority Myanmar see them as unwanted immigrants from Bangladesh, with the state denying the Muslims citizenship.
The United Nations has already described the Rohingya as the most persecuted community in the world.