Myanmar has pulled back security forces and weapons from near a no-man’s land along Bangladesh’s southeastern frontier, as border-guard officials from both countries met Friday after Dhaka complained about a troops build-up.
Representatives from Myanmar said during the meeting that additional troops and weaponry deployed in the area for “internal security” reasons and these “were not targeted at Bangladesh,” according to Bangladeshi officials. The meeting took place in Ghundam, in Bangladesh’s Bandarban district.
Myanmar on March 2 defended troops build-up along a border zone with Bangladesh where thousands of Rohingya refugees are camped, blaming a terrorist threat as Dhaka called for an immediate retreat to lower tensions along the troubled frontier.
The increased security presence this week has centred around a strip of “no man’s land” between the two countries where some 6,000 Rohingya sought shelter after fleeing a Myanmar army crackdown last August.
On March 1 Bangladesh’s foreign ministry said it summoned Myanmar’s envoy to call for an “immediate pullback of Myanmar security forces along with military assets from the area.”
Dhaka had summoned Myanmar’s ambassador the day before to lodge a diplomatic protest.
The Bangladesh foreign ministry “summoned” Myanmar’s envoy and conveyed the country’s “concerns” over the “military build-up” amid rising tensions following the influx of nearly 700,000 refugees from Myanmar.
Bangladesh’s acting foreign secretary “conveyed to the Myanmar ambassador in Dhaka that such military build-up will create confusion within Bangladesh and escalate tensions on the border.”
Dhaka said the troops were mobilised near a thin strip of land between the two countries where around 6,000 Rohingya have been living since fleeing Myanmar following a military crackdown in late August.
They were among the first to flee Myanmar and set up shelters in no man’s land in the weeks before Bangladesh agreed to let the Rohingya into the country.
In recent weeks they have come under pressure from Myanmar soldiers, who have stepped up patrols along the barbed-wire border fence just metres (yards) from the camp and broadcast messages using loudhailers ordering the Rohingya to leave.
Hundreds of Rohingya have since fled the camp and taken shelter in refugee settlements in Bangladesh’s southeastern border district of Cox’s Bazar.