A group of Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh are extorting the newly arrived refugees by providing them accommodation in seven new makeshift camps in different areas of Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban that they have set up with the locals’ help.
These vested quarters, along with the so-called landowners, have been charging heavy sums for building small shanties occupying the forest lands.
The new shelters have been built in Balukhali Dhalar Mukh, Taznirmarchhara, Shafiullah Kata and Hakimpara areas in Ukhiya, Hoai Kang and Noikhyang area in Teknaf, and in Naikhongchhari.
More than 100,000 newly arrived Rohingya, who fled to Bangladesh following the latest military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, have already occupied 450 acres of forest lands in a bid to set up residence.
Thousands of refugees are thronging towards these new shelters as the existing camps are already overcrowded.
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Farid Miah, 45, one of the refugees who came from Myanmar’s Maungdaw province, told the Dhaka Tribune that he was charged Tk2,000 to get the permission to build a small hut with bamboo and polythene.
Ali Kabir, divisional forest officer at Cox’s Bazar south zone, told the Dhaka Tribune that some local syndicates have been building slums for the Rohingya in the name of shelters.
“We have been conducting drives to evict such newly-built slums. The existing camps have already acquired more than 600 acres of forest land. So, the latest occupation has become a matter of serious concern for the administration,” the forest department official said.
Ukhiya Upazila Nirbahi Officer Md Mainuddin said no more camps or shelters would be allowed to be set up in the upazila.
“The new Rohingya will be rehabilitated to the existing camps in Kutupalong and Balukhali,” he added.
Some 123,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the latest eruption of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in late August.
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