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What is behind the rising chaos in Rohingya camps?

  • Published at 10:27 pm March 24th, 2019
Web_Rohingya-camp-Cox's Bazar- syed zakir hossain
File photo of a Rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

The current situation is leaving the host community more frustrated than ever in Cox’s Bazar

Criminal activities, attempts to establish dominance, and internal conflicts have become the major reasons behind the recent  chaos in the Rohingya camps, which currently shelter more than 1.1 million refugees in Cox’s Bazar.

All parties responsible, including army, police, Rapid Action Battalion, and officials in charge of the camps for maintaining camp security, have blamed extremist Rohingyas for using the opportunity created by these issues to fan disorder.

A large number of unemployed and idle Rohingyas have been engaging in different criminal activities for money, since aid agencies are meeting their basic needs, according to police. They are also involved in domestic violence, internal feuds, and gender-based violence.

Apart from crimes, disorder is spreading through the camps rapidly due to clashes between Rohingya groups over past disputes and internal conflicts, as well as their attempts to establish dominance, both in the camps and over the host community.

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The internal issues of the Rohingya groups sometimes have also led to attacks on law enforcement officials and foreign journalists in the camps at Ukhiya and Teknaf.

Nearly 700,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh and taken refuge in the camps since the military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state began on August 25, 2017. They joined the 400,000 Rohingyas who had already come to Cox’s Bazar earlier.

Although Bangladesh struck a deal with Myanmar to repatriate the Rohingyas to Rakhine, the refugees are still reluctant to return home because their citizenship, safety, and security, are yet to be ensured by the Myanmar government.

However, taking a hard-line to prevent the chaos from spiraling out of control, law enforcement agencies have beefed up security and increased patrols in the camps.

The district’s Additional SP, Md Iqbal Hossain, told the Dhaka Tribune: “We are working on resolving the problems between the refugees and locals, recently fanned by some extremist Rohingyas.

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“We have a list of these people and they are under our constant surveillance.”

Magistrate Md Rezaul Karim, in-charge of Kutupalong Rohingya camp, said: “We now deal with a number of these incidents involving the Rohingyas on a daily basis.”

According to him, most of the conflicts are caused by disputes between families, financial crimes, and the building of shops inside the camps.

Rohingya leader Md Muhib Ullah said most average refugees were concerned about their dwindling peaceful coexistence with the host community. “People of Bangladesh gave us shelter in our darkest days. We are ever grateful.

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“But some people are continuously trying to spread chaos across the camps. We are helping the local administration and will keep doing so. We do want to safely return to Myanmar.”

Meanwhile, the current situation in the camps and the attempts of Rohingya criminals to establish dominance in local areas, are leaving the host community in Cox’s Bazar more frustrated than ever.

Shafiul Kabir of Balukhali said: “We are now the minority because of the Rohingyas. Their behavior has changed, which make us look like we are the refugees. They also attack us locals over minor issues.”