With each passing days as more and more Rohingyas are being made to leave India and Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh is now having to accept more refugees than this country ever thought of hosting
Entire world praises Bangladesh for playing host to over a million persecuted Rohingyas from Myanmar. But with its own huge population base and limited resources, Bangladesh’s capacity to accommodate more has now been put into a test.
With each passing days as more and more Rohingyas are being made to leave India and Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh is now having to accept more refugees than this country ever thought of hosting.
Over the last few months, around 1,300 Rohingya refugees have crossed the Bangladesh-India border into the country and taken shelter in the camps in Cox’s Bazar. The Saudi government is also deporting Rohingyas holding Bangladeshi passports.
From India, the refugees are crossing the border with the aid of traffickers. Many say they had been living in Jammu-Kashmir, New Delhi, Assam, Hyderabad and many other areas for five or six years.
A group of Rohingyas, including 17 children and six women, were moored for five days in the no-man’s land outside Brahmanbaria for from Friday evening, attempting to enter Bangladesh. They were eventually returned on Tuesday and put in jail custody in India.
Similarly the Saudi Arabia has recently deported 13 Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh, accusing them of holding Bangladeshi passports illegally. The Saudi government has also rounded up 150 refugees with the plan to deport them. Many of these refugees had been staying in the country for 6-7 years.
For decades, Rohingyas fleeing persecution have taken shelter in the neighbouring countries. It is estimated that there are at least 40,000 refugees in India. In the last few months, many of them have been deported to Myanmar, and many others detained.
Rohingyas living in the camps said many of their friends and family had made their way into UAE, Indonesia, Pakistan, Australia, Malaysia, Canada and other countries with Bangladeshi passports. They also say if they are deported, they want to come back to Bangladesh as Myanmar is not safe for them yet.
Ukhiya Upazila Nirbahi Officer Md Nikaruzzaman Chowdhury said: “For now we have put the Rohingyas coming from India at the transit camp next to Ukhiya TV Centre. We are not placing them in any camps. Later we will bring them together from the various camps in Teknaf and Ukhiya and arrange for shelter.”
Cox’s Bazar Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Md Abul Kalam said: “Starting this month suddenly Rohingya refugees sheltered in India have begun coming into Bangladesh. Around 1,300 Rohingyas came from India this month.”
“They have been put in the Ukhiya transit point shelter under the supervision of UNHCR. They will remain there until the government issues further instructions,” he added.
‘Fleeing deportation in India’
Rohingya refugees sheltered at the Kutupalong Transit Camp in Cox’s Bazar said they were doing alright at the refugee camps in India. But they have escaped to Bangladesh since the Indian government began forcefully deporting the refugees to Myanmar. Every week a Rohingya family or two is crossing the border into Bangladesh. Most of them are getting back together with family members who are already in the refugee camps here. The refugees are coming into the country by engaging traffickers at the India-Bangladesh border.
Rabeya Khatun, 50, who came from India last week and was put in the Kutupalong Transit Camp, said: “We crossed the border in the dead of the night with the help of traffickers.
“The seven of us came through the Manipur border, paying Tk10,000 per person. My husband and children came through another route. Then we met up and came to this camp,” she said.
Rohingya youth Kabir Ahmed, 25, also at Kutupalong Transit Camp, said he had gone to India through Bangladesh over four years ago.
“We were doing fine until recently, living in Hyderabad. But suddenly the Indian government started enlisting us for repatriation to Myanmar,” he said.
“Already some Rohingyas have been forcefully repatriated, despite the fact that the conditions in Myanmar are not viable for return. It will be dangerous for us to go back there,” Kabir added.
In recent weeks, more violence has flared up in Rakhine state, the home of the Rohingya people, as the militant organization Arakan Army, an armed group based in the ethnic majority Rakhine community, engaged in conflict with the country’s security forces, calling for more autonomy for the state's Rakhine Buddhist population.
Mia Hossain, 60, said he and his family did not want to go to their homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine until the situation there was calm and safe.
“Let us stay here in this Rohingya camp. Our relatives are all here. We can stay here. I urge the international community to prevent the Indian government from deporting Rohingyas to Myanmar,” he added.