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35,000 vulnerable Rohingyas moved to safety

  • Published at 09:31 am July 9th, 2018
  • Last updated at 11:26 am July 9th, 2018
File photo of a Rohingya camp in Cox's BazarSyed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Another roughly 150,000 Rohingyas are also at risk, but no plans have been made for their relocation

Of the roughly 200,000 Rohingyas at risk of natural disasters during the upcoming monsoon, 35,000 have been moved to safety.

Those moved were the most vulnerable. 

Another roughly 150,000 Rohingyas are also at risk, but no plans have been made for their relocation. However, more may be moved if the need arises.

Those relocated have been carefully selected from the Ukhiya and Teknaf Rohingya camps over a period of two months. They had been living along the edges of hills since the crisis began. 

Cox’s Bazar Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Md Abul Kalam said: “We had marked out 200,000 Rohingyas as at-risk from the monsoon, and the 35,000 most vulnerable were relocated quickly. The others will be moved if necessary. 

“New accommodations have been built at the camp for those relocated, and they were moved with help from the International Organization of Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and various other international NGOs and aid organizations,” he added. 

Since August 2017, over 700,000 Rohingyas have settled in Bangladesh, having fled persecution by Myanmar’s army in Rakhine state. They joined 400,000 Rohingyas who escaped Myanmar in past decades, bringing the total to 1.1 million Rohingyas now living in 12 refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar’s Ukhiya and Teknaf. 

According to the Forest Department, the group was initially supposed to live on roughly 5,500 acres of land, but that number has inflated to over 10,000 acres—with the additional land being occupied and deforested by the group.

Cox’s Bazar Environment Protection Council President Dipok Sharma Dipu said: “The administration has cut more hills in the name of moving vulnerable Rohingyas. How is moving from one hill to another going to help them? 

“The way NGOs have cut hills for the sake of relocating Rohingyas, it seems as though there is no one to care for the woodland. We must unite to stop this malpractice by the NGOs, as their rampant disregard for the environment will have grave consequences in the future for everyone involved,” he added.

Cox’s Bazar south Forest Department Divisional Forest Officer Md Ali Kabir said: “No planning was done before the occupation of the 5,500 acres of land. No permission was taken from the Forest Department. Now, with so many hills being cut without proper planning, the monsoon may spell doom for a lot of people living in their proximity.”

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