Bangladesh, Myanmar agree to consider sealing border if new crisis erupts

Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to consider closing their shared border if there was a repeat of the recent Rohingya refugee crisis, a Dhaka newspaper has reported.

The decision was announced on April 6 at the end of a six-day meeting in Dhaka attended by senior officers from the Bangladesh Border Guard and the Myanmar Police Force, the Dhaka Tribune reported.

BGB Additional Director General Anisur Rahman told a news conference the meeting had agreed to exchange information and act when necessary to seal the border to stem any flow of illegal immigrants, the newspaper reported.

More than 75,000 Rohingya are reported to have fled to Bangladesh after the Tatmadaw launched a security crackdown in northern Rakhine State in October in response to attacks by Muslim militants on police border posts that left nine officers dead.

“They fled because they were terrified of the constant persecution and oppression they were facing in their homeland,” Anisur was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

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“We explained our concerns to Myanmar and they said the situation had been resolved and the area was perfectly peaceful now,” he said.

The Myanmar delegation was headed by MPF chief Brigadier-General Myo Swe Win, who was quoted as saying the situation in northern Rakhine was stable.

On other issues, Anisur and Myo Swe Win agreed that it was essential to remove landmines and improvised explosive devices planted along the border, the report said.

It quoted BGB and MPF officials as saying they could not clarify who planted the explosives. They said the explosives were known to have caused casualties, but could not provide figures.

The BGB also raised concern about drug trafficking from Myanmar and handed the MPF a list of 49 suspected yaba factories and drug smuggling crossing points in Rakhine, the newspaper said.

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