Returnees from Bangladesh face food shortage in rainy season

KISSAPA, Myanmar (Eleven Media Group/ANN) - People that had re-entered Myanmar from Bangladesh after the fallout from terrorist attacks in Rakhine are facing shortage of foods in the monsoon season.

“We are now facing lack of ample foodstuff and lack of jobs. We want to look for jobs in the downtown area but we are staying at the village under the guidance of the ward administrator. As no one really knows of the regional situation, everyone take turns at the sentry duty. When we arrived at the village, social organizations and Red Cross associations including the government staff provided aid to us. But now, no one hardy comes to our village because transportation access is difficult in rainy season. That’s why we have food shortages. Currently, we are urgently in need of rice including edible oils, salt and fish paste,” said Shwe Hla Maung who is sheltering at the Aung Thapyae village, northern Maungdaw Township, Rakhine State, after returning from Bangladesh.

“We lived over at Bangladesh by working farm related jobs. But the Bangladeshi government banned us from foraging and firing in the forest. So we became unemployed. Moreover, they collected a tax on the crops. When we sell the bamboos, the tollgate authorities didn’t allow us to pass free. For education and health, there are no schools and clinics. That’s why we can’t stay here and we have to return to Myanmar. We will never be returning to Bangladesh even if we face great difficulties,” said Shwe Hla Maung.

Those returnees came back into Myanmar starting from March and they stayed at a location nearby Aung Thapyae village after building huts for themselves.

However, they have no opportunities to look for jobs. While they are willing to forage and sell baboos as well as by farming within forest areas, they are afraid of the jungle and its dangers.

There are a total 69 returnee ethnic households comprising of 345 people sheltering near Aungthapyae village, northern Maungdaw Township starting from February this year.

“At present, a total of 69 households had arrived in Aungthapyae, Thupanaka and Thittonena villages in Northern Maungdaw Township. Recently two days, there are four Daingnet families arriving again in Thittonena village where there were Mro families in the past. Temporarily huts are being built for them. Moreover, Mro families are now arriving in Thupanaka village as well those sheltering at the school in Aungthapyae village are Rakhinees. We, Emergency Providing Committee (Maungdaw), provided a rice bag, mat, dry-fish, blanket, net, edible oil, bowls and cloths for women to each family on March 20th,” said Sein Hla Phyu from Emergency Providing Committee (Maungdaw).

Likewise, four members from Bangladesh had entered Nanthataung village, Maungdaw Township, on February 22nd because they faced difficulties of accommodation and food and threat of some Islamic.

Currently, Police members together with staffs from Immigration and National Registration Departments are investigating those ethnics who entered from Bangladesh.

As minority ethnics were threatened by Bengalis aftermath of Maungdaw violence-2012, hundreds of Rakhinees and Mro ethnic from Bangladesh entered Maungdaw.