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20 May, 2019 12:34:24 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 20 May, 2019 05:12:31 PM
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Desperate Rohingyas spreading out

Many escaping camps fall prey to traffickers
HARUN UR RASHID, Dhaka
Desperate Rohingyas spreading out

Desperate to be free of their uncertain lives, many members of the Rohingya population are making efforts to move to other countries or elsewhere in the country for a better life, said sources in the local administration and experts. They added that as the refugees are living in crammed camps with large families, coupled with inclement weather conditions like extreme heat and the impending rains, the Rohingya population is looking for new avenues.

From their experience in the field, they said the Rohingya people have already passed around two years without any ray of home for their repatriation to their homeland in Rakhine state in Myanmar in a safe and hospitable environment.

When these people attempt to sneak out of the matchbox-like camps, human traffickers swoop down on them, promising them luxurious lives.

Though the local administration is trying to check Rohingyas from scattering or sneaking out of camps with their limited manpower, it has been reported that many of these people have left the camps without their knowledge.

Sources said the Rohingyas spend huge amounts to get passports and other means to escape from the camps. According to police estimates, around 58,000 Rohingyas have fled the camps till May 5 in the past two years.

The local administration said they have recommended to the government to erect fences around the camps and reinforce the police posts to stop the Rohingyas from fleeing. But they also said that if they fence the area, it will require more than six months, as the rainy season is near.

Besides, they said motivational activities should be increased to inform the Rohingyas that they should not fall prey to human traffickers.

“Camp life has become excruciating for the Rohingya people. They are looking for a better

life. As a result, they are falling prey to human traffickers,” Cox’s Bazar deputy commissioner (DC) Kamal Hossain told The Independent yesterday (Sunday).

He said the law enforcement agencies said they are trying to prevent the scattering of the Rohingyas and to curb human trafficking.

The Cox’s Bazar superintendent of police (SP), ABM Masud Hossain, said, “The Rohingya people have become habituated to the local customs and costumes. They have even learned the local language. As a result, it has become difficult to distinguish them from locals.”

“As the camps are scattered, spanning a vast area, these people use the jungles, hills and villages. Often we cannot trace them because most of our camps are located on the highways and we have a shortage of manpower to tackle such a large population,” he added.

He also said these people will desperately try and sneak out of the camps in the upcoming rainy seasons to go to Malaysia and other countries. Some of these Rohingyas have relatives in Malaysia and other countries.

As regards the human traffickers, Masud Hossain said, “In the past few years, we saw the local traffickers were very active. But this time, the traffickers are manoeuvring from outside and functioning actively.”

He said they have a dearth of forces to guard a big chunk of the Rohingya population. Right now they have two battalions of forces to oversee the camps. “If we get more forces, it will be helpful in increasing the number of check-posts,” he added.

He said they have recommended to the government to set up fencing around the camps. The rationing system should be checked properly, too, to see how many of them are taking rations.

He also said they are telling the Majhi (Rohingya camp leader) to be more helpful in this respect so that no-one can sneak out of the camps.

He, however, said, “From our field experience, these people want a better life outside the camps. So they are risking their lives to go other places.”

A member of the Taskforce Against Human Trafficking, Didarul Alam, said, “The lives of the Rohingyas have become uncertain as they have been living in the camps for a long time. They want to go back to their country or elsewhere for a better living. So they are scattering to flee from vulnerability.”

“Under this situation, this time is favourable for the human traffickers who are waiting to hunt these people, giving them hopes of a better life. But in most of the cases, those trafficked end up in prostitution or forced labour,” he added.

He also said, “Even if these people are scattered in other parts of the country, it will cause damage instead of creating any benefits. They might become victims of radicalisation as well.”

Alam said the local administration is active but what is more important is that the traffickers are also smart in dealing with such trafficking activities as they have their own sources to carry out the task. The administration should see look into this matter, he added.

He suggested motivational activities for every Rohingya, both victims and probable victims. “The Rohingya people should be brought under counselling to tackle such scattering,” he added.

Cox’s Bazar DC Kamal Hossain said, “Motivational activities are continuing through Islamic foundation and Imams.”

MK

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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