Prime Minister Hasina warns that crime is up among increasingly frustrated Rohingya
In a meeting with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, the Bangladeshi leader expressed concerns about 1.1 million Rohingya refugees, stuck for years in Cox's Bazar. Myanmar authorities have said that they will repatriate the displaced, but the latter want guarantees on their right to citizenship. Meanwhile, those who fled to India are now moving to Bangladesh.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met on Tuesday with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi in Dhaka.
During the meeting, she expressed concern about the situation in Ukhia, a heavily forested area in Cox's Bazar district, where over 1.1 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals have been forced to live for years.
The Rohingyas, she said, “are becoming frustrated due to protracted uncertainty over their repatriation which has a potential risk as it entices many of them to get involved in criminal activities”.
What is more, “They are reducing the forest by cutting trees and thus creating great environmental hazards in the area,” she explained, adding that each year some 45,000 babies are born in Rohingya camps in Bangladesh.
Her government, she noted, is providing temporary shelter on Bahanchar Island, Noakhali, with accommodations for up to 100,000 Rohingya. So far, some 30,000 have already been relocated.
For his part, High Commissioner Filippo Grandi shared Bangladesh’s concerns. Speaking about his recent visit to Myanmar, he said that he asked the government to start repatriating the Rohingya. Myanmar authorities agreed and the UNHCR has offered assistance to this process.
During his five-day visit to Bangladesh, Grandi visited Cox's Bazar and Bahanchar, where he met some Rohingya. Local sources report that refugee representatives told the High Commissioner that they will not return to Myanmar until they are granted citizenship.
Meanwhile, more and more Rohingya are coming to Bangladesh, but not from Myanmar. As a result of persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, many had fled to India and are now crossing illegally into Bangladesh.
Since last year, more than 2,000 have reached camps in Ukhia-Teknaf. For these Rohingya, refugee camps in Bangladesh are better stocked with food supplies and relief aid.
In Cox's Bazar, however, resentment against the refugees is growing because of the involvement of some in murders, kidnappings, drug trafficking and the presence of armed groups at the border, which represents a threat to the Ukhia-Teknaf area.
In the past five years, about 115 people have been killed in Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar.