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2 NGOs banned for backing anti-Rohingya repatriation campaign

  • Published at 06:47 pm September 4th, 2019
File photo: Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas attend a massive rally organized at a field in Camp No 4 (Extension) at Kutupalong's Modhurchhara in Ukhiya on Sunday, August 25, 2019, to observe two years of their latest exodus from Myanmar's Rakhine state Tanjir Rahman/Dhaka Tribune

Banks have also been told to halt all transactions of the organizations

The government has banned operations of two non-government organizations (NGOs) in Bangladesh for allegedly financing and instigating an anti-repatriation campaign at the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar.

US-based Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and local Al Markazul Islami have been ordered to immediately stop their operations across the country, the district’s Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Md Ashraful Afsar confirmed on Wednesday.

The government also ordered a halt on all bank transactions of the organizations, he added.

The NGO Affairs Bureau issued a circular to this regard and sent it to the Cox’s Bazar DC office on Wednesday afternoon.

Apart from financing a rally at a camp in Kutupalong, Ukhiya on August 25, which was organized to observe two years of the refugees’ latest exodus from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, ADRA and Al Markazul provided t-shirts to the Rohingyas ahead and during the event, said Afsar.

“That’s why the government ordered them to stop their activities not just in the Rohingya camps, but also around the country,” he said.

After the second attempt to repatriate the Rohingyas to Myanmar failed on August 22, the government had blamed various foreign and domestic NGOs, saying these organizations were discouraging the refugees to return.

Three days later, the Rohingyas organized the massive rally at Kutupalong’s Modhurchhara without proper approval from the local authorities.

Afterwards, the district administration conducted an investigation into the NGOs and sent its findings to the NGO Affairs Bureau.

On August 31, the bureau withdrew 41 NGOs from their operations at the camps "because of their wrongdoings."

Two days prior to that, it also suspended six projects of another NGO, Mukti Cox’s Bazar, for allegedly making sharp weapons for the refugees.

The authorities had earlier halted operations of six other NGOs working for the refugees.

Bangladesh currently hosts over 1.1 million Rohingyas, including more than 730,000 who fled brutal persecution in Rakhine and crossed over into Cox's Bazar since August 25, 2017, at different camps in the south-eastern district bordering Myanmar, according to official data.

However, sources from different NGOs said that the current Rohingya population in at least 30 camps is well over 1.4 million, including the children who were born here. Dhaka Tribune could not verify this data independently.