Myanmar/Bangladesh Rohingyas: the search for safety

Thousands of Burmese Muslims from the Rakhine (Arakan) State in Myanmar, known as Rohingyas, fled into southeastern Bangladesh during the first half of 1997. Unlike more than 250, 000 Rohingya refugees who came to Bangladesh in 1991 and 1992, these new arrivals are largely living in local villages rather than in designated refugee camps. The Government of Bangladesh has not permitted the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to interview these people, asserting that they are all economic migrants. Given the grave human rights situation in Myanmar, it is impossible to state in a blanket fashion that Rohingyas are only fleeing economic hardship and therefore are not worthy of protection.

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