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Rohingya crisis: Bangladesh briefs diplomats on deteriorating situation in Rakhine

In this file photo taken on 7 September 2017 unidentified men carry knives and slingshots as they walk past a burning house in Gawdu Tharya village near Maungdaw in Rakhine state in northern Myanmar. AFP file photo

The pro-independence armed group Arakan Army of Myanmar has begun a fierce battle with the country’s military to maintain their hold in the Rakhine state. Shells fired from Myanmar have landed in Bangladesh territory, some exploded and some unexploded, several times during the firing between two sides.

Myanmar’s helicopters have also breached the airspace of Bangladesh several times over the past two weeks. All things considered, Bangladesh has become concerned over deteriorating situation in the Rakhine state.

Foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen on Monday briefed the diplomats of the missions of various European countries in Dhaka about the situation in the Rakhine state.

At the briefing, the secretary expressed Bangladesh's concern. Diplomats from the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark and several other European countries were present at the briefing. Two diplomats from two European missions in Dhaka confirmed the matter to Prothom Alo.

Basically, the diplomats of the European missions in Dhaka was attending the foreign ministry’s briefing regarding the fallout of the Russia-Ukraine war. At the briefing, Bangladesh also brought the situation in Rakhine to their attention.

Regarding the discussion with the diplomats, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen told Prothom Alo at his office on Monday evening that the diplomats have been briefed on the Rohingya crisis as well as deteriorating situation in Rakhine.

Bangladesh also apprised the European diplomats about its position on the Russia-Ukraine situation as well as how the country is observing the situation.

Exploded and unexploded mortar shells fired from Myanmar have been landing in the Bangladesh territory from second half of August to the first week of September several times. The foreign ministry has so far summoned Myanmar ambassador to Dhaka Aung Kyaw Moe three times and handed over note verbale in protest of such unwarranted incidents.

Wishing anonymity, a diplomat attending the briefing told Prothom Alo said that at one point of the discussion, a diplomat of one of the European countries wanted to know about whether there had been talks on Rohingya crisis and Rakhine situation at any level during prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India.

In reply, the foreign secretary informed that there had been discussion on Rohingya crisis during the prime minister’s visit to India, and India too assured Bangladesh of helping resolve the crisis, the European diplomat added.

Regarding the briefing, UK High Commissioner to Dhaka Robert C Dickson said they mainly discussed the Russian invasion on Ukraine with the foreign secretary, and they gave their opinion on how this unjust Russian invasion affects Bangladesh and rest of the world.

The issue of deteriorating situation in Rakhine also came up at the briefing, the UK envoy said, adding that the foreign secretary mentioned Bangladesh’s concern over recent deteriorating security situation.

In the meantime, Prothom Alo’s staff correspondent from Cox’s Bazar reports that intermittent firing was heard from Rakhine on the other side of Naikhangchhari border in Bandarban on Monday afternoon. Several Rohingyas are believed to have crossed Bangladesh border following the conflict between Arakan Army and Myanmar military. However, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) is in high alert at border to stop Rohingyas intrusion.