Politics

Bangladesh to set up fences, watchtowers around Rohingya camps

Dhaka, Sept 8 (efe-epa).- Bangladesh authorities on Tuesday decided to install fence, watchtowers and close circuit (CCTV) cameras around the Rohingya refugee camps in the southeast of the country in a move aimed at increasing surveillance.

“A decision has been made to install fences around the refugee camp so that the refugees cannot move randomly, and use a certain gate. Twelve watchtowers and a required number of CCTV cameras will also be installed,” senior Bangladeshi minister AKM Mozammel Haque told EFE.

Haque, who chaired a meeting of the cabinet committee on law and order on Tuesday, said the Bangladesh Army has been entrusted with installing the fresh infrastructure, a task which is expected to be completed by November.

The army had already erected barbed wire fences near Rohingya camps last year but Haque said they have decided to build a new boundary as the earlier fences were not strong enough, adding that “the whole thing was decided keeping the security requirements in mind.”

New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch had earlier criticized Bangladesh’s decision to set up fences around the camps, saying it violated refugees’ rights to freedom of movement.

“While the authorities have a duty to protect camp residents, security measures should not infringe upon basic rights and humanitarian needs,” it said in a statement in September 2019.

“The proposed measures do not meet the standards of necessity and proportionality for restricting free movement under international human rights law.”

The move comes after in April Dhaka said it would not accept more Rohingya refugees even as hundreds of members of the community were stranded at sea as they tried to enter Bangladesh after being turned back from Malaysia.

Hundreds of Rohingyas have tried to flee the overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh in recent months in the search of a better life, many of them escaping onboard fishing vessels towards Malaysia and Indonesia, countries which have adopted a strict policy towards their arrival and turned back several boats.

Last week Bangladesh transported 40 Rohingya leaders to a remote island, often flooded during the monsoon, as part of a controversial plan to relocate thousands of refugees.

Nearly 738,000 Rohingya refugees have been living in Bangladeshi camps since August 2017, following a wave of persecution and violence in Myanmar that the UN has described as ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Myanmar does not use the term Rohingya and also does not recognize the group as citizens, arguing they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. EFE-EPA

am/ia

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