The Naf River is a 39 mile long river that runs down the border of Bangladesh and Myanmar/Burma. It has recently been the last step in reaching the refugee camps for the Rohingya as they flee the documented atrocities in Burma, described as “textbook ethnic cleansing.” In their desperation, many Rohingya have tried to cross the Naf River with whatever means necessary — be it impromptu boats or hanging onto empty gas cans and trying to swim across. The maximum depth of the vast river is 400 feet, and the average depth is approximately 128 feet.
— Fortify Rights (@FortifyRights) October 23, 2017
There have been multiple drownings during these attempts at crossings, though many would rather face the perils of the Naf River over the Burmese Army back in their homes.
While the Burmese government has very publicly claimed that they will allow existing citizens to become repatriated to the country if they return with proper documentation, they have seemed to have either forgotten or intentionally left out the fact that they know most Rohingya won’t qualify for citizenship. In 1982 they made it sure that the Rohingya, who had long since lived within their borders, were all but excluded from ever becoming citizens in the first place. The UN, along with other nations across the globe, have consistently urged the Burmese government to allow people like the Rohingya that live in its own borders to acquire citizenship.
Of course, citizenship hasn’t stopped the Burmese military from committing decades of atrocities toward its own people, but it would certainly be a start. Until then, any effort to “repatriate” the Rohingya will generally fall short — and that’s even if many of these people want to come back.
Either way, until the violence against civilians comes to a halt, it is likely that these people will attempt to cross the border into Bangladesh in whatever way they can.
Video courtesy of Fortify Rights via Twitter; featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.