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Food shortage at Saint Martin: Residents struggle amid vessel suspension due to Myanmar unrest

Food shortage at Saint Martin: Residents struggle amid vessel suspension due to Myanmar unrest

Cox's Bazar Correspondent

Over 10,000 residents of Saint Martin’s Island are facing severe food shortages following the suspension of water vessel operations on the Teknaf-Saint Martin’s Island route. This suspension, enforced due to unrest in Myanmar near the Bangladesh border, has severely impacted the island’s supply chain.

Local administration officials have implemented alternative measures, arranging special transport via river routes and permitting goods-laden vessels to ensure essential supplies reach the island.

Since February, movement of tourist ships and other vessels have been disrupted due to escalating violence in Myanmar, which has spilled over to the border areas of Bangladesh. Recently, frequent gunfire has been reported along the Teknaf border, causing panic among island residents and further disrupting the movement of goods and people.

The suspension has led to a significant food crisis on the island. Mujibur Rahman, chairman of Saint Martin’s Union Parishad, highlighted the gravity of the situation, noting that vessels had been targeted by gunfire, prompting authorities to enforce the ban on all vessel movements.

All kinds of vessels, including those carrying goods, have been suspended for the past six days, he said, emphasizing the dire consequences for the island’s food supply.

Mehedi Hasan, Teknaf Upazila Nirbahi Officer, reported that on June 5, 25-30 bullets were fired at a trawler carrying election commission officials from Myanmar. This incident has heightened fears and reinforced the ban on vessel movement.

Khorshed Alam, general secretary of the Saint Martin’s Speed Boat Owners Cooperatives Association, echoed these concerns. People are afraid to travel on this route due to the risk of being fired upon.

In response to the crisis, Md Yeamin Hossain, additional district magistrate of Cox’s Bazar, announced that measures are being taken to transport goods to Saint Martin’s Island using trawlers, with enhanced security protocols to ensure safe delivery.

Lieutenant Colonel Md Mohiuddin, commanding officer of BGB-2 Battalion, confirmed that a formal protest is being prepared to address the attacks on trawlers with the Myanmar security forces.

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