Dhaka,   Tuesday 23 July 2024

The South Asian Times | সাউথ এশিয়ান টাইমস

Food shortage hits St Martin’s Island

Published: 09:28, 14 June 2024

Food shortage hits St Martin’s Island

Staff Correspondent

Over 10,000 residents of Saint Martin’s Island are facing severe food shortages following the suspension of 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 has taken alternative measures, arranging special transport via river routes and permitting goods-laden vessels to ensure essential supplies reach the island.

Since February, the movement of tourist ships and other vessels has 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. 

Mujibur Rahman, chairman of Saint Martin’s Union Parishad, highlighted the gravity of the situation, saying that the suspension has led to a significant food crisis on the island. He also mentioned that gunfire had targeted vessels, which prompted authorities to impose the ban on all vessel movements.

Shapuree Dwip residents spend another sleepless night amid Myanmar firingShapuree Dwip residents spend another sleepless night amid Myanmar firing

Mehedi Hasan, Teknaf Upazila Nirbahi Officer, reported that on June 5, some 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.

Meanwhile, sounds of mortar shells and gunfires are being heard from across the border in Shahporir Dwip since Wednesday morning. 

The loud sound of mortar shells and gunfire was heard till 5pm on Thursday, locals said. Apart from this, a mortar shell exploded in the waters of that country halfway across the Naf River.

Abdus, a Union Parishad member, said: "A lot of gunfire is being heard at night. As there is a river in between, it is difficult to say where the firing is going on exactly. But at night there was so much sound that we could not sleep.”

Mohammad Abdullah, a resident of the Island, said: "We could not sleep at night due to the gunfire. Sounds were heard even on Thursday morning. The people are frightened. Their Eid-ul-Azha celebrations have been destroyed by the recent terror from across the border.”

In this regard, Teknaf Upazila Nirbahi Officer Adnan Chowdhury said: “The sound of firing is still heard from across the border. Two people who were stranded on the island returned in a trawler today (on Thursday).”

On Tuesday afternoon, two trawlers and some speedboats bound for Teknaf from Saint Martin’s Island were shot at from across the Myanmar border.  

The Bangladesh authorities could not provide any information confirming whether Myanmar's Border Police (BGP) or rebels had opened fire on the boats.