• Friday, Nov 15, 2019
  • Last Update : 09:27 pm

Rohingyas obtaining Bangladeshi passports via traffickers to go abroad

  • Published at 12:33 am June 22nd, 2019

Police say it is difficult to prevent this as the traffickers are helping the Rohingya leave Bangladesh

Seeing no hope for their repatriation to their homeland in Myanmar’sRakhine state with dignity, a large number of desperate Rohingyas are now either opting to go abroad illegally or spread to different parts of Bangladesh, creating a fresh problem for the country.

According to local police and NGO officials, a human trafficking racket is encouraging the Rohingyas, mainly women, to take the risk of going to Malaysia and Indonesia by sea, or flee the camps in Cox's Bazar to collect Bangladeshi passports with fake documents.

This racket is providing them with the false documentsand helping them trick the authorities to get their hands on the passports. The traffickers are also helping the Rohingyas escape therefugee camps and contact their relatives living in different Muslim countries.

Contacted, Brig Gen Saidur Rahman Khan, the project directorof Introduction of e-Passport and Automated Border Control Management in Bangladesh, told UNB that almost all the Rohingyas who have taken shelter in Bangladesh have registered their biometric data.

"We are taking steps to incorporate the fingerprints of the Rohingyas in our system,to make sure they cannot get Bangladeshi passports by any means. I hope, the process will be completed by July," he said.

Saidursaid that some Rohingyas also show Bangladeshis as their parents, as locals help them, while collecting necessary documents for passports.

More than 1.1 Rohingyas, who have fled brutal persecution in Myanmar over the past few years,are currently sheltered in a number of camps at Teknaf and Ukhiya of Cox’s Bazar.

Abu NayeemNasim, an official at the Cox's Bazar regional passport office, said they have already identified some 300 applications submitted by Rohingyas.

He said they are now very careful in issuing passports so that Rohingyas cannot get them with false documents.

Steps taken

Refugee Relief and Repatriation CommissionerAbul Kalam said it is a very tough job to control nearly 1.2 million Rohingyas. "They are making various efforts to either go abroad or spread to different parts of the country. Many of them have already left their camps."

He said they are taking various steps to stop it by intensifying monitoring on the Rohingyas. "We are strongly dealing with the issue and law enforcement officials are also playing an active role to preventthe Rohingyas from fleeing the camps."

Local police, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and coastguards have intensified their monitoring and launched special drives to prevent the Rohingyas from escaping the camps.

Law enforcement officials set up eight check posts at Ukhiya and Teknaf, while coastguards took position at different points of the Naf River and the Bay of Bengal.

In their separate drives, BGB, coastguardsand Police detained around 600 Rohingyas over the last one-and-a-half-month, foiling their bid to flee to Malaysia through the sea.

Cox's Bazar Superintendent of Police (SP) ABM Masud Hossain said Rohingyas are mainly fleeing their camps through different secret ways in the hills and jungles.

Besides, he said, the displaced Myanmar nationals are now taking help from the locals to learn their language, dress-up style, and way of communication. "So, they now make efforts to escape their camps pretending to be local people."

Masud also said most of the Rohingyas detained during their escape attempts were women.

Detentions galore

On June 6, police arrested 18 Rohingyas from Cox's Bazar Link Road and produced them before a court.

On May 30, coastguards arrested 56 Rohingyas — 26 women, 20 men and 10 children — and two human traffickers from the deep sea while heading towards Malaysia.

Earlier, law enforcement officials detained 517 Rohingyas and 32 human traffickers in their different drives.The detained Rohingyas were taken back to their camps, and the traffickers were produced before the court.

Some of the Rohingyas who got scattered to different parts of the country were also detained by police.

On May 10, police arrested 23 Rohingyas from Dhaka’sKhilkhet area as they were preparing to leave Bangladesh for Malaysia with Bangladeshi passports.

Two Rohingya women were detained at HazratShahjalal International Airport while attempting to go to Saudi Arabia by a Kuwait Airlines flight on May 25.

A day before, police detained 50 other Rohingyas during a drive in Chittagong’s KazirDewri area and sent them back to their camps.

On Wednesday, Armed Police Battalion also arrested two Rohingya men with 9,000 yaba pills at the HazratShahjalal International Airport in Dhaka.

Besides, around 50 Rohingyas were detained from different parts of the country during their attempt to collect passports with fake documents.

Desperate for a better life

Saikat Biswas, an official of Inter Sector Coordination Group, said many Rohingyas are desperate to go abroad seeking a better life as there is no progress in their repatriation process.

Besides, he said, some Rohingyas are contacting their relatives who stay abroad and taking their help to flee Bangladesh through various ways.

Saikat feared Bangladesh may face a fresh problem if Rohingyas continue to flee their camps.

Sheuly Sharma, executive director of JagoNariUnnoyonSangstha — whichworks for the welfare of the women in the camps,said many Rohingya girls now dream of getting married and going to Malaysia.

"Most Rohingya girls have a perception that they will have good husbands and a better life if they can go to Malaysia by any means.Human traffickers give them these ideas,” she said.

Cox’s Bazar Additional SPIqbal Hossain said it is difficult to check the trafficking of Rohingya as they are willing to leave Bangladesh. "The situation has turned critical with the local human traffickers assisting them."

He said the government can consider erecting barbed wire fences around the Rohingya camps to limit their movement.