Security agencies in Bangladesh have recently identified 39 people in Cox’s Bazar who are trafficking the sheltered Rohingya people, especially women and children by promising them good-paying jobs and a better life elsewhere.
An intelligence agency recently made the list, following extended vigilance at different Rohingya camps. The Dhaka Tribune has secured an important portion on the list.
All the 39 suspected human traffickers are active in Rohingya camp areas at Ukhiya’s Kutupalong, Balukhali, Hakimpara, Thaingkhali, Noyapara, Palangkhali and Teknaf’s Deilpara, Hnila, Sabrang areas, said the intelligence report.
Most of these brokers reportedly hailed from Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas. These middlemen are targeting illiterate, unaware and vulnerable Rohingya women, children and men and taking them away from the camp areas.
These culprits are promising the children’s parents that they will be able take better care of their kids, and luring the Rohingya women through promises of a better life through marriage and jobs.
Even the Rohingya men are falling victims to these middle men, through promises of better paying jobs in other parts of the country and abroad.
This information was disclosed by a number of intelligence officials who have been working in the Rohingya camps.
The brokers, who are involved in human trafficking, are becoming more and more active, as the number of sheltered Rohingya kept increasing with the passing of each day.
Meanwhile, Cox’s Bazar Superintendent of Police AKM Iqbal Hossain told the Dhaka Tribune that there are no human traffickers in the Rohingya camps, and police have full control over the camp areas.
However, the police official acknowledged that several trafficking attempts on women, children and men have been recently reported.
Mobile courts led by the district administration, with assistance from the security agencies, so far sentenced around 352 human traffickers to different terms on charges of their involvement with attempted trafficking of Rohingya people.
The Cox’s Bazar district police also sent about 4,748 Rohingya people back to the camps since September this year, through regular drives and check-posts, confirmed the district police sources.
In a recent development, the law enforcers on December 12 rescued an eight-year-old Rohingya girl who was being trafficked by one Asma Yasmin. She identified as a field officer of a NGO named ‘Mukti’.
However, Mukti authorities said they have no employee named Asma.
Meanwhile, the Rohingya people of Hakimpara Rohingya Camp-- from where the child was about to be trafficked, added that they had seen Asma roaming around the camp for the last 20 days before the incident.
Hakimpara Rohingya Camp’s Majhi (local name of a particular block leader at the Rohingya camps) Hamid Hossain, quoting the mother of the rescued girl, said that Asma took the girl from her family to show her the area.
On December 13, one Abdur Rashid, son of Kala Mia of Eidgaon area in Cox’s Bazar, attempted to traffic two Rohingya women, misidentifying them as his sister-in-law. But police detected the ploy and arrested him.
Teknaf police station Officer-in-Charge Main Uddin said: “We arrested a human trafficker and rescued the two victims from Botdeil area on December 14. The culprit attempted to traffic them to Malaysia by the sea route.”
According to Ukhiya police station OC Adbul Khayer, the law enforcers nabbed another four people from a nearby area at the end of November this year as they attempted to traffic two Rohingya women by promising them lucrative jobs.
“Such attempts of human trafficking are reported frequently. Local law enforcers sometimes manage to arrest some of these criminals, but most of these incidents are never reported,” a police official, seeking anonymity, told the Dhaka Tribune.
Police Inspector Manas Baura, in-charge of the special police camp at the Rohingya camp areas in Ukhiya, said: “It is tough to monitor such a huge number of people. However, the police have managed the situation well so far.”
“The helpless Rohingya are falling easy prey to criminal syndicates due to their lack of awareness and poverty,” he added.
According to the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission, a total 671,500 Rohingya entered the country from August 25 to December 19, after being displaced by the oppression of Myanmar Army and their cohorts, the Moghs of Rakhine, this year.
The Kutupalong Rohingya Shanties Management Committee President Abu Siddique said: “A strong network of human traffickers is active in Rohingya camps at Ukhiya and Teknaf. They primarily target the unmarried adolescent women and children.”
Bangladeshi nationals are not allowed in the Rohingya camps after evening, except a few on-duty law enforcers and army personnel.
Sources from the Cox’s Bazar Detective Branch reveal that the criminal elements inside the camps, comprised of both Bangladeshis and Rohingya, start their illicit activities in the cover of the night.
Kutupalong Registered Rohingya Camp In-charge Rezaul Karim said: “Some Rohingya people are engaging in criminal activities in exchange for money, which they desperately need.”
HELP, a non-government organisation, has found that about 2,500 Rohingya people, mostly women and children, have been trafficked or have gone missing from the camp areas since this September.
The Cox’s Bazar superintendent of police said they are monitoring the movement of the Rohingya and the locals through 13 check-posts, of them two are being operated by Bangladesh Army and the rest are being maintained by the police.
“We will show zero-tolerance to any criminal activity at the camps and at the districts, including human trafficking,” he concluded.