With over 250 cases having been filed against Rohingyas at nearby police stations, locals have become increasingly wary about their foreign neighbours
An increase in internal conflicts between Rohingyas at the Ukhiya and Teknaf camps in Cox’s Bazar has caused crime rates in the area to skyrocket.
In the last 14 months, 22 Rohingyas have been murdered by their fellow refugees, and certain groups within them are involved in kidnapping for ransom, extortion, rape, forced disappearances, robberies, gunrunning, drug dealing, and smuggling.
Moreover, hundreds have been injured in internal skirmishes.
With over 250 cases having been filed against Rohingyas at nearby police stations, locals have become increasingly wary about their foreign neighbours.
The situation is exacerbated by the fact that all this has happened despite the camps being guarded by police, RAB, army officials, and other law enforcement agencies, who have all strengthened their guard and set up regular patrols to tackle the situation.
Speaking on the matter, Cox’s Bazar Additional Superintendent of Police Md Iqbal Hossain said: “Rohingya refugees have internal conflicts over dominance in camps, communities, families, and old rivalries from their Rakhine days. These lead them to crimes of all sorts, including murder.
“This tendency for quarrelling is especially prevalent among majhis (leaders) and head majhis of Rohingya camps,” he added.
“However, we have taken strict measures and set up six additional police camps nearby to maintain law and order in the area,” Iqbal said.
Asked about the deteriorating situation, Balukhali Rohingya Camp 02 leader Lalu Majhi said: “The occurrence of such undesirable incidents within our community, especially in a foreign country is disappointing. Instead of focusing on returning to their homeland, a group of Rohingyas are carrying out criminal acts. They are not shy about assaulting people at the slightest provocation.
“We are doing our best to help the law enforcement agencies guarding the camps so that crime is under control,” he added.
Moktar Ahmed, leader of the Kutupalong Madhurchhara camp in Ukhiya, told the Dhaka Tribune: “Some registered Rohingyas cannot stand unregistered newcomers, and are physically assaulting them at every chance. This is leading to an increase in violent crimes.”
Acknowledging the 22 murders over the last 14 months, Cox’s Bazar Deputy Commissioner Md Kamal Hossain said: “Rohingyas have become involved in the drug trade, and we are trying to control this with increased security and patrols. We also have several ongoing investigations.”
The influx of Rohingyas
After 700,000 Rohingyas migrated from the military persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State starting August 25 last year, the total number of the community in the Ukhiya-Teknaf area rose to 1.1 million. These people currently live in 30 camps spread over 6,000 acres in the region.
Due to humanitarian concerns, the Bangladesh government, as well as local and international NGOs, are providing them with many facilities including rations, supplies, healthcare, and education.
However, Rohingyas are misusing donations and facilities given to them and committing crime after crime, with even guns and yaba tablets being recovered from the possession of some.
These violent incidents come against the backdrop of a drawn-out repatriation effort that is being worked on by the governments of the two countries, as well as a Joint Working Group of the United Nations.
However, on Thursday, Bangladeshi authorities called off the repatriation process of some Rohingya refugees after thousands of them protested against the process, casting fresh doubts on the contentious program.
No one from the initial list of 2,260 Rohingyas wanted to go back to Myanmar, as Rohingya refugees are still haunted by memories of the Myanmar army’s crackdown.