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Starving Rohingyas fleeing refugee camps

  • Published at 01:53 am December 20th, 2016
Starving Rohingyas fleeing refugee camps
Despite the tightened security by Bangladesh Guard Bangladesh (BGB) at Bangladesh-Myanmar border, hundreds of Rohingyas have been entering the country and taking refuge in Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas of Cox’s Bazar – mostly in Kutupalong, Leda and Nayapara refugee camps. But there is a striking lack of basic necessities for living – i.e. food, warm clothes and medical help – in the refugee camps, which is forcing them to flee the camps too. This correspondent met Nur Ahmed, a Rohingya who crossed over to Bangladesh a week ago with his wife Ayesha Khatun, their three children and his sister Rahima Khatun. They took refuge in the Kutupalong camp, but was forced to leave due to abject living conditions and came to Cox’s Bazar in search of a better life. Nur said the refugees are starving due to a severe scarcity of food – many of them get to eat only one meal in days. They are also suffering in the winter cold as they do not have warm clothes and blankets. “We were in a desperate situation. There was no options left for us other than fleeing the camp,” Nur said. His wife Ayesha said many families are fleeing the camp in the dead of night and moving as far as to Chittagong city in search of a better life. “Our two brothers, Shahab Miah and Amir Hossain, are still in Myanmar,” said Nur’s sister Rahima. “They are also preparing to move here [Bangladesh] with their families.” She said they preferred living in Bangladesh as there are better scopes for work here and it is easier to assimilate with the locals.
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Several Rohingyas who have fled the refugee camps agree with Rahima. They believe it is easier for them to find work and make a living in Bangladesh than in Myanmar. Having similar features as Bangladeshis also help them integrate into society, they told this correpondent. Local activists, however, are concerned over the growing number of Rohingyas fleeing the refugee camps and trying to become a part of the local society. Principal Hamidul Haque, president of Cox’s Bazar Rohingya Repatriation and Resistance Committee, said the new refugees should not allowed to be a part of the local community. “The government and international organisations should work together to put Rohingyas in a designated place. There should a be record that list all the Rohingyas so they can be repatriated later. “If we let them assimilate into our society, they may get involved in criminal activities,” he said.