• Sunday, Sep 26, 2021
  • Last Update : 03:46 am

Desperate Rohingyas seek new escape routes from Bangladesh

  • Published at 07:52 pm June 22nd, 2017
Desperate Rohingyas seek new escape routes from Bangladesh
In squalid camps in Bangladesh, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who have fled violence and persecution in neighbouring Myanmar dream of a better life abroad -- and rely on increasingly high-tech trafficking networks to get them there. Dhaka denies new arrivals refugee status and, after a major crackdown sealed off the ocean routes traditionally used to traffic migrants to Southeast Asia, many Rohingya are turning to complex smuggling operations to escape Bangladesh.
Also Read- Where have all the missing people gone?
"People are desperate to leave the camps," said Rohingya community leader Mohammad Idris. "Those who have money or gold ornaments are paying smugglers to get them out by air, and those who don't are trying roads." The Rohingya, who live mainly in Myanmar, are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
Also Read- Sold into slavery for a few thousand taka
Many now live in grinding poverty in Cox's Bazar, packed into camps that were home to more than 300,000 Rohingyas even before some 70,000 new arrivals poured across the border after the Myanmar army launched a bloody crackdown last October. Bangladesh denies them the right to work, and is proposing to rehouse them on an island that regularly floods at high tide. [caption id="attachment_70841" align="aligncenter" width="800"]This file photo taken on May 31, 2017 shows a Rohingya refugee sitting near a house destroyed by Cyclone Mora in a camp in the Cox's Bazar AFP This file photo taken on May 31, 2017 shows a Rohingya refugee sitting near a house destroyed by Cyclone Mora in a camp in the Cox's Bazar AFP[/caption]

New routes

For years, rickety boats were the main mode of escape for the refugees who would pay hefty amounts to smugglers to get them to Malaysia and Thailand. Those routes were cut off in 2015 when mass graves of would-be migrants, many of them killed at sea, were discovered in Thailand, triggering a global outcry and a major crackdown on traffickers.
Also Read- The traffickers of Teknaf
But the smuggling networks swiftly identified new routes out of Bangladesh by air and road, using mobile payments to operate internationally. Mohammad, an undocumented 20-year-old Rohingya, said he spent Tk600,000 to reach Saudi Arabia, where he now lives.
Also Read- Back in one piece from neverland
"I paid a local friend for a Bangladeshi passport and other papers. He also helped me pass through the immigration," Mohammad wrote using the WhatsApp messaging service. He asked that his family name not be used. As it becomes more difficult for migrants to leave Bangladesh, many have been forced to head to destinations once considered less appealing. Those who cannot afford flights are using buses and even travelling on foot to escape Bangladesh, going to India before moving on to Nepal or Pakistan. Some have even settled in the troubled Kashmir region. There is no reliable data on the value of the trafficking trade, but estimates suggest it is worth millions of dollars in Bangladesh alone.
Also Read- How modern slavers prey on Bangladeshis
These networks arrange fake Bangladeshi passports and birth certificates for the Rohingya, a stateless ethnic minority denied citizenship rights in Myanmar even though they have lived in the Buddhist-majority nation for generations. "It's unbelievable how deep the traffickers' grassroots network is and how smoothly they operate across nations," said Shakirul Islam, head of a migrants' welfare organisation called Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme.
Also Read- Bangladesh’s crime coast
Migration expert Jalaluddin Sikder said a proliferation of mobile phone money transfer services in Bangladesh was making it easier for the traffickers to do business internationally. "Multinational trafficking rackets are now a phone call away," said Sikder, who works in Dhaka's Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit, Bangladesh's main private think tank on cross-border migration. [caption id="attachment_70843" align="aligncenter" width="800"]This file photo taken on December 25, 2016 shows Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, who tried to cross the Naf river into Bangladesh to escape sectarian violence, being kept under watch by Bangladeshi security officials in Teknaf AFP This file photo taken on December 25, 2016 shows Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, who tried to cross the Naf river into Bangladesh to escape sectarian violence, being kept under watch by Bangladeshi security officials in Teknaf AFP[/caption]

Pay your way

Research conducted last year by a local charity uncovered complex underground trafficking networks that span the globe, using sophisticated technology to distribute payments globally without detection. "They are efficient in distributing the money to all the key players," said Selim Ahmed Parvez, researcher for the Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF).
Also Read- Why risk your life on the open seas?
These, he said, range from "local trafficking agents, to law-enforcing officers, administrative officials, politicians and the kingpins". The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite force fighting militancy and organised crime in Bangladesh, said they were working to stop Rohingya being smuggled out of the country. "It (trafficking) is happening here and we're trying hard to identify the routes and the channels the smugglers use," said Nurul Amin, RAB commander for Cox's Bazar.
Also Read- A lure too good to be true
But tracking down the smugglers is only half the battle. Fears are rising in the camps over a proposal to move the estimated 400,000 Rohingya to a desolate island in the Bay of Bengal -- a fate many say they would do anything to avoid. "We've successfully tackled the boat migration. And now our focus is on other smuggling routes," said the RAB's Amin. "But if someone is so desperate to migrate, can you stop him?"
51
Facebook 51
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail