Newly arrived Rohingyas lack basic needs

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Buddhist leaders in Dhaka decry Myanmar situation
SHAMSUDDIN ILLIUS from Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar
The Picture was taken from Whykong at the bank of Naf River in November 2016: Shamsuddin Illius

Publication Date: 28 November, 2016 00:00 00 AM
Media: The Independent
Original Link: Newly arrived Rohingyas lack basic needs
E-paper Link: Newly arrived Rohingyas lack basic needs

Large contingents of Rohingya Muslims have taken shelter in Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas. These refugees, who are living in registered and unregistered Rohingya refugee camps and houses of local people, are suffering greatly due to a lack of basic needs including food, clothes, and living space.
All these people have escaped from the Rakhine state of Myanmar to Bangladesh after the recent military crackdown there.

The United High Commission for Refugees said that it was waiting for government approval to stand behind the helpless people. The local administration said they could not give any permission to the UNHCR or other NGOs in this regard as they are yet to receive any instructions on the matter from the state level. On visiting the houses of local people and Rohingya refugee camps, it was found that many refugees were surviving by sharing meals with others. In the refugee camps, 20–25 people were found to be living in rooms of 100 square feet. Most of the newly arrived Rohingyas have no clothes or shoes. Many of them were seen shivering in the cold on the morning.
Hamid Hossain (47), a farmer hailing from Kheyariprang of Myanmar, crossed the border with his family of eight on November 21 and took shelter in a camp at Whykong Bazar. “We hid in jungles and hills with all our valuables after our house was burnt down. At the border, the BGP of Myanmar took all our valuables. Now we’re almost empty-handed. We’ve nothing to buy food or clothes and to build a home,” he told The Independent.
“Our brothers who came here earlier are sharing their food with us,” he said. “I intend to earn my livelihood here but have not yet managed to find any work,” he added.
Abul Fazal (27), a local trader of Kheyariprang, crossed over to Bangladesh with nine family members, including a one-month-old son who was born when the family was hiding in the jungles. “We managed to save our lives but can’t afford our basic needs,” he told The Independent.
Like Abul Fasal, Abu Taher (28) from Nishakhor, Humayun Ahmed (29) from Kheyariprang, Sayed Ahmed (28) from Nishakhor and Noziba Begum (50) from Gudhai, all places in Myanmar, reported a shortage of basic needs.
Din Mohammad (70) fled from Bolipara on November 24 with his five family members and took shelter in a house in Kanjarpara of Teknaf. Like him, Shamsul Alam, Ezar Hossain, Alma Khatun and Asma Khatun have also arrived empty-handed.
“It’s very costly to build a new house. At least Tk. 10, 000 would be needed to build each new unit. But these people have come here after losing all their valuables. In the circumstances, it’s quite impossible to build houses for them,” said a Rohingya leader in the refugee camp.
“Every family here is sharing living space to ensure that the newcomers have shelter,” he added.
However, some middlemen were also found among the local people, who were exploiting the situation by renting out space to the newcomers in lieu of money.
When contacted, Joseph Tripura, the Cox’s Bazar spokesman of the UNHCR, told The Independent, “We’re prepared to stand behind the people who have come to Bangladesh. We’re only waiting for government approval. We can’t help them without the permission of the government.”
Muhammad Ali Hossain, deputy commissioner of Cox’s Bazar, told The Independent: “I can’t give any instructions at present as I haven’t received any instruction from the state level on this matter.”
However, Ashif Munir, an expert on refugee situations who has worked with UNHCR in Cox’s Bazar, told The Independent, “I hope that the government will not stop them from providing basic needs to the people who have come here to save their lives. The UNHCR should not wait for the government’s signal. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) should not wait; it should make a list of people who have recently come from Myanmar.”
Our staff Reporter in Dhaka adds: Leaders of the Bangladesh Buddhist Federation yesterday heavily criticised the ongoing repression on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. They urged the Myanmar government and the authorities concerned to immediately stop the persecution of Rohingyas by the Myanmar army and to resolve the longstanding crisis.  They were addressing a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters’ Unity in the capital.
Ashok Barua, general secretary of the Federation, said such persecution of Rohingay people, including women and children, was against humanity. “We condemn such persecution and call upon the world community to stand by the Rohingya people,” he added.  He also expressed doubt that any anarchic situation might arise in Bangladesh centring the Rohingya issue. The recent spate of persecution of Rohingya Muslims has drawn much criticism from different quarters, including political, religious and ethnic minority organisations, both at home and abroad.

Shamsuddin Illius
Shamsuddin Illius is a print and online media journalist. He has been working in the field (fulltime) of journalism since 2010. He is very much passionate about journalism since his early age. Currently he is the Bureau Chief-Chittagong at The Business Standard.

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