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UN Refugee Agency documents rise in Rohingya dying at sea; World Bank to provide $700 million to Cox’s Bazar


UN Refugee Agency documents rise in Rohingya dying at sea

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated that 569 Rohingya died or went missing during sea crossings in 2023, an increase of more than 200 compared to the previous year. This is the highest number of people killed at sea since 2014 when 730 died.

Nearly 4,500 Rohingya fled Bangladesh and Burma by sea crossings last year. Most were women and children. The U.N. called on regional coastal authorities to save anyone found to be distressed at sea under international maritime law. Around 200 Rohingya were feared dead in November when their boat sank in the Andaman Sea. 

Over one million Rohingya live in squalid conditions in refugee camps in Bangladesh. In its 2024 World Report, Human Rights Watch highlighted that around 600,000 Rohingya living in Arakan State continue to be subjected to apartheid-like conditions.

World Bank to provide $700 million to Cox’s Bazar

Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Muhammad Hasan Mahmud announced that the World Bank will provide $700 million USD to Rohingya refugees and host communities in Cox’s Bazar on Jan. 23. 

Mahmud met with Abdoulaye Seck, the World Bank country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan. Refugees are set to receive $315 million USD and the host community will receive a soft loan of $385 million USD. 

Over 750,000 Rohingya fled the Burma Army’s 2017 clearance operations in northern Arakan State. It was called a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing” by the U.N. The U.S. government determined it a genocide in 2022.

Fortify Rights pursues ICC case against military in Timor-Leste

Patrick Phongsathorn, the Senior Advocacy Specialist at Fortify Rights,  told DVB in an interview that he met with Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta in the capital, Dili, to begin proceedings against the military under Article 14 of the Rome Statute at the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

“We went to Timor-Leste because we see Timor as being a really key country in terms of achieving long term international accountability for the crimes that are happening in Myanmar, especially since the coup, because it’s one of only two Southeast Asian states that are also members of the International Criminal Court,” he said.

Phongsathorn added that Timor-Leste has taken a strong stance against the 2021 military coup. It met with the National Unity Government last year. The ICC case comes after Germany declined to investigate war crimes committed by the military under universal jurisdiction filed by Fortify Rights in 2023.

News by Region

Arakan Army troops seize air dropped supplies near Minbya in northern Arakan State on Jan. 20. (Credit: AA)

ARAKAN—The Arakan Army (AA) claimed that it killed at least seven Burma Army troops in Minbya on Jan. 23, Western News reported. “The fighting has been intense for days, resulting in numerous casualties among Burma Army forces,” a source close to the AA told the outlet. 

The AA added that a significant number of troops were killed in Minbya Township on Jan. 20. Many locals have fled the town. Fighting was also reported in Ramree, Pauktaw, Kyauktaw, and Rathedaung townships. 

KACHIN—Chinese authorities handed over 57 Burma Army personnel at a border checkpoint in Mansi Township on Jan. 22. They had reportedly fled across the border after the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) seized two camps on Jan. 21. Thirty troops were taken as prisoners of war. 

MAGWAY—A 22-year-old political prisoner died at Magway General Hospital on Jan. 22. She was receiving care after alleged torture by prison authorities. Su May Aung, a university student was sentenced to 15 years in prison under the Counter-Terrorism Act in 2022 on accusations of supporting the People’s Defense Force (PDF). 

“Her family petitioned the court for her release but the court rejected and sentenced her to 15 years in jail. They also petitioned for her to have proper medical care but it was rejected as well and no treatment was provided,” said an unnamed source close to the family. She was transferred to the hospital from Magway Prison on Jan. 19. 

MANDALAY—A resistance group calling itself the Brave Warriors for Myanmar claimed that it fired missiles at Tada-U Air Force base on Jan. 23. “We fired all missiles at the Burma Army’s security post from 300 feet. Seven missiles were defective and we had to leave them there,” said an unnamed spokesperson. 

Tada-U Air Force base has the second largest stockpile of aviation fuel in the country. Most airstrikes carried out by the military are launched from this base, located in the center of the country. The extent of the casualties and damage from the attack on Tada-U are unknown. 

The Rohingya Photo Competition 2024 begins next month. Its aim is to put a spotlight on the lives of Rohingya in the refugee camps of Bangladesh. Stay tuned to DVB English News.


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