Nonprofit flags violence, crimes in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps

Bangkok, Feb 8 (EFE). Violence between criminal gangs, kidnappings and drug trafficking are some of the threats being faced by thousands of Rohingya refugees living in camps in Bangladesh after fleeing persecution by the Myanmar military, a nonprofit alleged on Tuesday.

In a report released in Bangkok, the Burma Human Rights Network said that nearly a million Rohingyas living in these massive network of camps were in a critical situation, also having to deal with inadequate hygiene and food shortages.

“With this report, we want to show the real picture of the refugee camps to the world after five years. The Rohingya issue is forgotten (by the international community), nobody talks about it, but their lives continue,” U Kya Win, the director of BHRN, said in a presentation at Thailand’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

Most of the Rohingya refugees had arrived in Bangladesh after the Myanmar military’s campaigns against the mostly Muslim minority community in 2016 and 2017.

The BHRN, which carried out a series of interviews with refugees settled in different camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district between October 2020 and April 2021, highlighted the lack of security for the settlers as criminal gangs had seized control like a “parallel authority” in some of the camps.

Almost all respondents, particularly the women, said that violence was a widespread problem at present and they were afraid of being subjected to attacks, kidnapping, rape, and even murder.

In September, a Rohingya leader was shot dead in a refugee camp by a group of unidentified assailants, with the reasons behind the killing not being identified.

Moreover, over 92 percent of the interviewed people said that food rations were “insufficient,” and around half complained of lack of medical supplies according to the report, titled “We also have dreams: ongoing safety and quality of life issues for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.”

U Kya Win urged the international community to act for improving the living conditions of the Rohingyas, most of whom want to return to Myanmar if they are guaranteed citizenship and other rights.

Around 738,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh after a campaign of persecution and violence by the Myanmar military in August 2017, and according to estimates by the nonprofit Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), over 10,000 members of the community were killed in the violence.

The UN has termed the military crackdown as ethnic cleansing and possible genocide, while international courts are investigating the incidents for crimes against humanity.

The military coup in Myanmar, which completed one year this month, has led to fresh concerns and dimmed Rohingyas’ hope of a possible return to their villages and towns in the country’s Rakhine region

Myanmar authorities do not recognize the Rohingyas’ citizenship, labeling them as Bangladeshi immigrants, and have imposed several restrictions on the community, including curbs on their freedom of movement. EFE


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