Thousands of Rohingyas still scattered outside camps

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Publication date: 13 October, 2017

Thousands of Rohingyas still scattered outside camps

SHAMSUDDIN ILLIUS back from Cox’s Bazar
Rohingya refugees dismantle their makeshift home to move to another camp at the Palangkhali refugee camp in Ukhia district yesterday. AFP photo

Media: The Independent

Original URL: Thousands of Rohingyas still scattered outside camps

E-paper URL:  Thousands of Rohingyas still scattered outside camps


Although the government has allocated 2,000 acres of land at Balukhali to bring all Rohingya refugees who have crossed over to Bangladesh at one place, 1.5 lakh Rohingyas still remain scattered in Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban districts. They have taken shelter in the homes of the local people at Cox’s Bazar Sadar, Ukhiya upazila, Teknaf upazila, Ramu upazila of Cox’s Bazar district and Naikhonchhari upazila of Bandarban district.

The Cox’s Bazar district administration said that these Rohingyas have succeeded in finding shelter in the homes of the local people with the help of middlemen.

However, the administration has taken no initiatives to bring the scattered Rohingyas to the government refugee camps in Ukhiya. Moreover, the Rohingyas who are staying with locals  in the two border districts are spreading across the country  by dodging the law enforcement agencies, said sources.

Since August 25, over 20,000 Rohingyas have been detained at check posts in different parts of Cox’s Bazar and some 1,000 of them elsewhere in the country. They have been taken to the Rohingya refugee camps at Cox’s Bazar with the help of police.

The Cox’s Bazar district administration has so far taken action against about 300 middlemen through mobile courts for helping Rohingyas to spread out, besides fleecing and torturing them. As per the report of the IOM (International Organisation of Migration), 520,000 Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh in search of safety since August 25. Of them, 89,427 newly entered Rohingyas are staying at the places of locals in Cox’s Bazar Sadar, Ukhiya upazila, Teknaf upazila, Ramu upazila of Cox’s Bazar district and Naikhonchhari Upazila of Bandarban district. Before the August 25 influx, 56,224 Rohingyas were staying with the locals.

According to the report of the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) published on October 8, a total of 145,651 Rohingyas are living with the “host community” of the two bordering districts. Of them, 12,485 Rohingyas were living at Cox’s Bazar Sadar before August 25, and 2,805 more have joined them since then. As many as 2,995 Rohingyas were staying Ramu upazila of Cox’s Bazar. Of them, 1,600 had taken shelter there before August 25 and 1,395 after that date. The highest number, 71,607, were staying in the homes of the local people in Teknaf upazila before August 25 some 33,687 Rohingyas are staying and from August 25 some 37,920 Rohingyas have taken shelter at host communities.

Some 39,559 Rohingyas are now staying at the homes of local people in Ukhiya upazila. Of them, some 8,452 were staying there before August 25, while 31,107 have taken shelter with the host communities after August 25.

Though there was no Rohingyas before August 25 in Naikhongchhari upazila of Bandarbhan district, about 16,200 Rohingyas have taken shelter in local people’s homes there since the latest influx.

Locals said these Rohingyas are staying there because they have found employment locally as day labourers and fishermen.

Those who have taken shelter at the homes of local people by paying middlemen can easily spread across the county, as they are not registered with the Rohingya refugee camps.

Some locals are also giving them shelter, as they are getting rent from them. As the language of Rohingyas and their physical features are similar to those of the locals, they can easily mingle with them. “As some local people rent out homes to the Rohingyas, they are staying with them. Some locals are also helping them to spread out to other places of the country. However, I have asked our commissioners to submit reports on the whereabouts of these Rohingyas so that we can send them to the camps,” said Mohammad Islam, mayor of Teknaf municipality.

Contacted, Ali Hossain, deputy commissioner of Cox’s Bazar district, told The Independent: “We will bring all the Rohingyas to Balukhali eventually. It will take some time to bring all of them to one place.”  Meanwhile, our special correspondent adds: Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday said he will visit Myanmar on October 23 to discuss the Rohingya crisis, crossborder terrorism and drug trafficking.

“We will urge our counterparts there to take back their citizens known as Rohingyas, who had started entering our country from August 25,” the minister told reporters at his Secretariat office.

“We will try to sign memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on border issues to curb crossborder terrorism,” he added.

Sources said the secretaries of the home ministry’s Public Security Division and Security Service Division, the inspector general of police, the director general of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), the director general of the Bangladesh Coast Guard and the director general of the Department of Narcotics Control will accompany the home minister during his Myanmar visit.

Dhaka and Yangon have agreed to form a joint working group (JWG) to start the process of repatriation of Rohingyas who have taken temporary shelter in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.

The agreement on the repatriation process was reached during the recent visit of Myanmar’s minister of the office of state counsellor, Kyaw Tint Swe. Bangladesh has also sought the implementation of the Kofi Annan Commission’s recommendations for a durable solution to the Rohingya crisis.

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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