World, Asia - Pacific

Bangladesh to erect fence to fight Rohingya trafficking

Move aims to prevent Rohingya from being trafficked, halt them from leaving camp area, official says

SM Najmus Sakib  | 24.05.2019 - Update : 24.05.2019
Bangladesh to erect fence to fight Rohingya trafficking


Bangladesh has opted for barbed wire-fencing around refugee camps amid a dramatic rise in the trafficking of Rohingya.

Mohammad Abdul Kalam, chairman of Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC), told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that the move was decided on back in 2017 but was not implemented as it had not reached a crisis level then.

The fence “would not only prevent Rohingya from being trafficked but could help control their tendency of leaving the camp area”, Kalam said.

“A huge refugee community [of Rohingya] is residing there in Cox’s Bazar. The entire region [of neighboring countries] would be put in danger if the Rohingya issue is not given due importance.”

Refugees leave the camps out of frustration due to a lack of jobs and other basic facilities, he said.

Myanmar is responsible for resolving the issue and the international community should pressure its government to repatriate their people, he added.

Senior Bangladeshi government officials have observed the need for fencing around Rohingya camps in order to prevent Rohingya from leaving the camp area and to halt human trafficking, according to local daily The Financial Express.

"We have plans to erect barbed wire fencing around the camps in Cox's Bazar to prevent criminal activities," the daily quoted Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal as saying.

“Nearly every day, we prevent Rohingya from being trafficked to Malaysia through the Bay of Bengal. There is no boundary around the refugee camps. If there was, such incidents could be reduced,” a police official in Cox’s Bazar who declined to be named told Anadolu Agency

Earlier, the government proposed allocating 31.9 million Bangladeshi Taka (around $378,141) for erecting barbed wire fencing around the 11 Rohingya camps of Cox's Bazar.

The proposal has been sent to the Finance Ministry for approval.

Fencing not solution

Nay San Lwin, campaign coordinator of rights group Free Rohingya Coalition, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that wire-fencing will not solve problems that plague the camps.

"[There is need] to educate the refugees not to fall [into] the trap of criminals and human traffickers.

"Most important is to destroy the main group behind the traffickers who are engaging in the camps.

"Setting up wire-fence will be like putting Rohingya into concentration camps. I have visited Nazi concentration camps. I don't want my fellow Rohingyas take refuge in the same concentration camps."

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience".

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings – including of infants and young children – and brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.

In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity and genocidal intent.

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