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Jamtoli: A model refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar

  • Published at 06:43 pm November 3rd, 2017
  • Last updated at 11:20 pm November 3rd, 2017
Jamtoli: A model refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar
At first glance, the Jamtoli refugee camp of Ukhiya upazila appears no different to the other 11 camps set up for the Rohingya displaced by the violent persecution by the Myanmar security forces in their Rakhine state homeland. On closer inspection by this correspondent, however, it is evident that Jamtoli is more disciplined, cleaner, and better-managed. Over the past 16 days, the Dhaka Tribune has visited eight of the 12 camps providing shelter and essential aid to the Rohingya in Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas of Cox’s Bazar. Most of the camps that this correspondent visited were difficult to navigate, the language barrier was a major issue, and getting information about anything would take hours. Jamtoli stands out as a model refugee camp in the region because of the organisation and discipline that are present there. Just like the 11 other camps, the Jamtoli site shelters nearly 50,000 Rohingyas and is supervised by the Bangladesh Army, with the support of a site management team led by Christian Aid in coordination with other foreign and domestic NGOs. A total of 26 domestic and international NGOs are currently working in the camp area. The camp is divided into eight distinctive blocks and their names are put on large, colour-coded banners, which make it easy to find a particular block. A total of 88 leaders – known as “Majhi” by the Rohingya – have been tasked with helping the visitors and aid workers to communicate with the Rohingya refugees in the camp. The Majhis can be easily spotted as they wear special uniforms – visitors have no problem seeking them out. Relief distribution is more organised in Jamtoli, too. In other camps, especially in Kutupalong and Balukhali, government and international aid is distributed inefficiently, which is why many refugee families end up getting relief items multiple times a day, while many others do not receive the aid at all. The camp management team in Jamtoli, meanwhile, has developed a system for the fair distribution of relief and equal access to services and facilities. The camp has a central distribution point that ensures that all incoming relief is equally distributed among the refugees sheltered there. A number of people living in the camp praised the management team for the measures it implemented there. Speaking with the Dhaka Tribune, one of the coordinators in Jamtoli rohingya camp, Md Monir Uddin, said they were maintaining a Common Response Plan and a coordination mechanism among all stakeholders working at the camp. “Right now, the camp management is building a database containing information on everyone living in the camp,” he said. “Christian Aid has also taken an initiative to use Global Positioning System to map facilities such as tube wells, toilets and medical service points.”