Dhaka, Aug 28 (efe-epa).- Bangladesh authorities said on Friday they restored the high-speed 3G and 4G internet connectivity in the Rohingya refugee camps nearly a year after shutting the services down.
“The 3G and 4G mobile networks were restored in the refugee camps today at the instruction of higher authorities,” Mohammed Shamsuddoha, the Additional Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, told EFE.
A spokesman of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) also confirmed the decision.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission in September 2019 had asked the cellphone operators to shut down high-speed networks in the Teknaf and Ukhia areas of the country that house the refugee camps.
The shutdown of high-speed internet connections came two weeks after Rohingyas held a large gathering in the camp on the second anniversary of the start of their current crisis.
The gathering, which was attended by at least 100,000 refugees, according to police, triggered an outcry in Bangladesh, prompting the authorities to launch a clampdown.
Bangladesh authorities had cited security reasons for the internet clampdown but rights groups criticized the move, saying it would severely limit the communications and access to information for nearly one million refugees living in the country.
New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch in May urged Bangladesh authorities to lift the internet shutdown following the Covid-19 outbreak.
Quoting aid workers, the rights group said “the shutdown prevents effective dissemination of coronavirus information as well as impeding aid workers’ ability to conduct contact tracing to contain transmission of the virus.”
Rohingya refugees said the government’s decision of restoring high-speed internet connection in the camp would give them at least some respite.
“Today, we are really happy. We have suffered a lot due to this restriction,” said Abdur Rahim, a leader of the Rohingya rights group Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights.
Around 738,000 Rohingyas fled Myanmar to Bangladesh from Aug. 25, 2017, following a military campaign in response to an alleged attack by a Rohingya insurgent group against police and border posts. EFE-EPA