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UNHCR: Rohingyas should not be restricted from communicating relatives

  • Published at 01:39 am September 15th, 2019
The Rohingya rally on the 2nd anniversary of the 2017 influx Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Contacting relatives is no more an issue, say govt officials and Rohingyas

Rohingyas sheltered in Cox’s Bazar should not be subjected to any restrictions which stop them from staying in touch with their relatives, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said.

In response, the concerned officials of the government of Bangladesh have said unequivocally that there are no restrictions in place that prevent the displaced people from contacting their relatives.

Some Rohingyas, who spoke to Dhaka Tribune, also said that they are able to stay in touch with their relatives.

However, they added that they cannot use social network or internet as the speed of the internet has been lowered to 2G.

In response to journalists’ questions about reported telecommunications restrictions in Cox’s Bazar following protests there, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said that those seeking shelter should not be prevented from contacting relatives or friends living elsewhere, according to the website of the UN News.

“The Government of Bangladesh does have overall responsibility for ensuring security and safety of the Rohingyas who are sheltered in Cox’s Bazar,” UNCHR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said on Friday. “Given the humanitarian nature of the Rohingya refugee settlements, we would recommend the adoption of security measures that do not impact upon the ability of refugees to access basic services and rights and live safely,” he said. 

Highlighting how useful technology is for Rohingyas wishing to communicate with “family and friends and humanitarian agencies”, Mahecic said that this was especially the case in emergency situations, like the one happening now.

“There are no restrictions in place. Rohingyas can communicate with their relatives anytime they wish to do so,” a government official told this correspondent.

Concurring with his colleague, another official said, “For the purpose of ensuring security, the speed of the internet has been lowered for the last few days.”

“Yes, we can contact our relatives. But, we cannot use the internet and social media since the speed of the internet has been reduced to 2G,” said Arif Ahmed, leader of a Rohingya community called Majhi.

“Using the internet and social media is important,” he said.

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