(Reuters) – Bangladesh told three international aid agencies on Thursday not to help thousands of Rohingyas Muslims who have been fleeing into Bangladesh to escape violence in neighbouring Myanmar.
France’s Médecins Sans Frontières, British-based Muslim Aid and Action Against Hunger were told about the ban by Joynul Bari, commissioner of the southeastern border district of Cox’s Bazar, which he said was meant to discourage illegal migration from strife-torn Myanmar.
Bari said the directive came from Bangladesh’s NGO (non-governmental organisation) Affairs Bureau which regulates aid groups.
The charities were not immediately available for comment, but have already faced pressure not to aid a new influx of Rohingyas.
Longstanding tensions between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Muslim Rohingyas boiled over in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in early June, resulting in a series of arson and machete attacks in which authorities say 77 people were killed and more than 100 wounded.
Myanmar security forces killed, raped or carried out mass arrests of Rohingyas after the violence started, New York-based Human Rights Watch said, raising questions about the government’s ability to manage an ethnically diverse nation emerging from decades strict military rule.
There are at least 800,000 Rohingyas in Myanmar but they are not recognised as one of its ethnic groups.