Media: The Independent
Hapless Rohingyas fleeced all the way
Rohingyas are having to cough up money at every step to cross the Bangladesh-Myanmar border to reach refugee camps in Bangladesh. After reaching the camps, a new struggle begins to enter the camps and to get a space for living. Here a syndicate realises money from each of them and forces them to pay rent for staying in the camps. Escaping from torture by the Myanmar military and police, Rohingyas are entering Bangladesh almost every day, after the military launched a crackdown in their homeland from October 9. From crossing the border to reaching Rohingya camps at Ukhia and Teknaf, a Rohingya has to pay Tk. 30,000-Tk. 35,000 to middlemen on both sides of the border. At least 10 such middlemen were arrested recently, but there are more waiting to fleece hapless Rohingyas. Visiting Leda and Kutupalanog, two unregistered Rohingya refugee camps, locally know as “taal”, this correspondent found new shanties being built. When complete, they would be rented out.
The racket helps these persecuted Myanmarese minorities to cross the border, dodging the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), through different points, including Whykong, Lambabil, Kanjarpara, Leda, Nayapara and Jhimangkhali.
On November 29, this correspondent followed a group of 37 Rohingyas, who had escaped from Kheyariprang through Totardwip of Myanmar, till the Kutupalong camp. Around 9:10pm, they crossed over by a boat. A middleman received them and took them to a nearby house for food.
One of the male members of the group, Nur Kalam, 35, son of Ayub, hailing from Kheyariprang of Mongdu, told The Independent: “Each of us had to pay Tk. 25,000 to a broker named Ayub. The broker kept us at his house for four days. When we reached Bangladesh, another broker took Tk. 4,000 from us.” Other members of the group —- Ambia Khtun, Arafat Hossain and Nur Khaida —- had the same thing to stay.
When the group tried to hire a bus to reach the Kutupalong camp, they were fleeced by the driver of a mini-truck. The driver, a local, came and demanded Tk. 5,000 to take them to the camp only 20 km away. When they said the fare could not be more than Tk. 500-Tk. 700, the driver warned them that if the money was not paid, he would inform the BGB. More haggling was in store at the gate of the unregistered Kutupalong camp. Some five people received them and began demanding money. Paying Tk. 100 to each of them, they managed to enter the camp. Md Saiful Islam, 38, son of Shamsul Alam, and Md Rafique, 23, son of Nur Hossain, hailing from Jambunia of Mongdu, have taken shelter at the Leda camp. They said troops set fire to their houses. After hiding in the jungles for 30 days, they decided to come to Bangladesh. They paid Tk. 75,000 to a broker. But when they reached a river to take a boat, Myanmarese soldiers took away their valuables. When they reached the camp, they had to pay to enter the camp.