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The construction of a fence along Burma’s border with Bangladesh has resumed in Arakan State.
New checkpoints will also be built to stop people entering Burma illegally.
Lt-Col Thet Naing, coordinator of the construction project, confirmed to DVB that construction is underway.
“We are creating access routes spreading from the road to the fence. And we are planning to build gravel roads on these routes this year so that we can send units to the fence immediately if we have a situation,” he said.
Construction of the fence started in 2009 when the then border guard force, known as the Nasaka, built 40 km of barbed wire fence just 13 metres from the Bangladesh border. The Bangladesh government objected to the construction.
Now, as ethnic unrest tears though the Arakan State, security efforts at the border are being stepped up.
More than 800,000 Rohingya-Muslims live in Burma, the majority in Arakan State. Ongoing ethnic and religious violence has left 140,000 Rohingya is displacement camps, where access to food, water and medicine is becoming increasingly difficult.
Those in power believe the stateless group are illegal immigrants who have crossed the border from Bangladesh.
The fence will run along the 210km land border between the two countries and will also stretch along the maritime border of the River Naf passing Maungdaw.
“The first phase of project is building the fence, followed by construction of sentry paths, access routes and large and small gates. We have around 20 billion kyat [US$ 20 million] for each sector of the fence,” said Maj-Gen Ko Ko Naing, Regional Commander of the Western Regional Military Command.
Burma’s Ministry of Home Affairs is funding the multi-million dollar project, but with desperate people on both sides of the border, the fence project seems to ignore the root causes of conflict and suffering in the region.