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Rohingya camps: The new yaba storehouse

  • Published at 01:27 am June 2nd, 2018
  • Last updated at 01:27 am June 2nd, 2018
File photo of a Rohingya camp in Cox's BazarSyed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

A number of Rohingyas, who have fled to Bangladesh, have smuggled in contraband yaba pills and stored them in their makeshift houses in the refugee camps, it has emerged.

Law enforcement officials say they found out about the situation recently after interrogating a number of Rohingyas arrested from the camp areas.   

More than 250 Rohingyas have been detained in the Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas of Cox’s Bazar in the last six months. They were accused in more than 100 cases filed over drug smuggling, according to Cox’s Bazar police.

Security forces have seized more than 10 million pieces of yaba pills from the Rohingyas and local drug peddlers since the beginning of the latest influx on August 25 last year.

Teknaf police station’s Inspector (Operation) Sheikh Ashrafuzzaman said: “There is a possibility that the drug peddlers use the Rohingyas as mules.”

Most of the Rohingyas have taken shelter in Ukhiya. The area’s Upazila Nirbahi Officer Md Nikaruzzaman said the influx posed a huge risk to the area and its residents.

“They (the Rohingyas) can be involved with various offences or can be used by people with ill motives,” he said. “We have received information that some Rohingyas are trying to store Yaba in the camps.

“We are trying to arrest them. They managed to flee from the camps during our drives. But we have arrested some mules. We have bolstered supervision of the camp areas.”

Cox’s Bazar Detective Branch sources said a number of unidentified youths, who are suspected to be yaba peddlers or mules, had been seen roaming around camps at Kutupalang, Balukhali and Hnila at dawn riding private cars and motorcycles.

A number of Rohingya refugees at Kutupalang and Balukhali said about 200 small huts at the two camps were being used as yaba storehouse.

DB officials say they suspect several thousand Rohingyas are involved with drug peddling and most of them are women.

RAB 7 Commanding Officer Lt Col Miftah Uddin Ahmed said they had recently seized yaba while being smuggled Ukhiya and Teknaf, adding: “We are investigating to what extent the Rohingyas are involved with criminal activities.”

Cox’s Bazar police chief AKM Iqbal Hossain said: “We have limited manpower to supervise the 1.4 million Rohingyas who are staying in overcrowded areas in two upazilas. We are trying our best to keep an eye on their activities.”