Rohingyas cross the River Naf in exchange of gold

13 Sep 2017, 11:02 | updated: 17 Sep 2017, 19:10

The Rohingyas have to get into the boats paying whatever the owner of a boat demands. Photo: Mohammad Ibrahim

There is a canal at Hariakhali of Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar, tourist town in south eastern Bangladesh.  The canal is locally familiar with ‘Bardera Khal’. The canal meets into the Naf River, the only river between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Enayet Ullah on Tuesday afternoon got down in the mud beside the canal with his daughter. He arrived at Shah Pori Dwip, which is a maritime boundary between the countries located at the gateway of Naf River. The island forms an extension of the peninsula of Teknaf. The island plays an essential role as a likely landing place for boatloads of refugees crossing the Naf River from Myanmar, attempting to reach Bangladesh.

The Rohingya man fled Myanmar violence crossing the river. Enayetullah had to pay five ana (3.5 grams) gold to the owner and boatman.

He said, ‘Rohingyas fail to cross the river without having any money. Rohingyas have to get into boats so quickly to save their lives. They don’t get, even are not given a little time to spare and to bargain with them about the boat fare. They have to get into the boats paying whatever the owner of a boat demands.’

Enayet Ullah fled the Rakhine state along with his mother, wife and two-year-old daughter. He said, ‘The Myanmar military soldiers and local Buddhist terrorists called us to leave our houses, entering at Rohingya villages. Then they hurl ‘loincha’ (locally made crude bombs) towards us.’

Enayet Ullah has explained that loincha is a kind of bomb. When it is hurled over the houses, some houses at a time can set ablaze.

Enayet said they have to leave their houses right at that time to escape death with whatever belongings they find near their hands. They don’t get time to backpack their belongings.

‘My mother had some anas of gold and we left house relying on the lone capital. We hid at the jungles and hills for five days. Then we started our long walking and reached on the mouth of Naf River. But we had no power and capability to cross the river without money,’ added Enayet.

He said, ‘I had to disclose the concealed gold as I had no cash money. The boat owner demanded five anas of gold in exchange of crossing the river. We left with no other ways but to pay. Then the boatman agreed to give us a lift on his boat.’

An estimated 370,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence and death in neighbouring Myanmar since 25 August. At least 457,000 hungry and traumatized refugees have sought refuge in Bangladesh’s border areas Ukhia and Teknaf since October 2016. They have joined many thousands of refugees from previous violent episodes in Myanmar.