Myanmar authorities have attracted dozens of Buddhist Bangladeshi tribal families to cross the border and resettle on land left by Muslim Rohingyas, officials said on Monday.
Attracted by offers of free land and food, about 50 families from forest areas on the Bangladesh side have moved to Rakhine state.
Families of Marma and Mro tribes residing in Bandarban hill district have left their homes, said local councilor Miung Swi Thwee, according to AFP.
Miung added that last month 22 families in Sangu forest reserve had abandoned their villages.
The families, mainly Buddhist along with some Christians, were being ‘lured by Myanmar’ to Rakhine, for free land, citizenship and free food for five years, Swi Thwee said.
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"They are going there to fill up the land vacated by the Rohingya who have left Burma (Myanmar). They are extremely poor," added the local councilor.
Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled Rakhine for camps in mainly Muslim Bangladesh since last August. Two officials in the region confirmed the fleeing, stating up to 55 tribal families had left for Myanmar.
"They are being lured by some people in Myanmar in return for free homes, free food for five-seven years. Some families have shifted there after being attracted by these offers," Jahangir Alam, a government district administrator, said a leading press agency.
Officials suspect political greed behind the migration.
"We think perhaps they (Myanmar) want to make some news using these people, that Buddhists are being tortured and repressed in Bangladesh and that's why they have left the country," said one official on condition of anonymity.
A Bangladeshi security officer said that Myanmar had resettled thousands of Buddhists in Rakhine by alluring them with free food, homes, cows and cash.
Muing Swi Thwee said more than 100 tribal families had left his area for Myanmar in the past three years.
A series of development projects, either government and army-sponsored or privately funded, are transforming the area, which the military sees as the frontline of its fight against encroaching Islam.