Although local people came forward to help the persecuted Rohingyas taking shelter in Cox's Bazar at the initial stages, resentment is brewing among the former now as the refugees are entering the local labour market, according to a fact-finding report.
The report was revealed by Sri Lanka-based rights group South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR). A team of the organisation recently visited the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar. The findings were disclosed through a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity yesterday.
Speaking at the programme, SAHR chairperson Sultana Kamal said the government should look into this growing resentment and take effective measures.
Locals have to be assured that they have a participatory role in the process of sheltering the persecuted people, and that the situation is temporary, she said.
The six-member SAHR team led by Sultana went on a five-day fact-finding mission to Kutupalong, Balukhali-1 camps and Hindupara area in Ukhia on December 7.
They talked to the refugees, locals, government officials, police, and members of UN agencies. As part of the mission, they also spoke to civil society members and journalists in Cox's Bazar and Dhaka.
More than 640,000 Rohingyas have fled into Bangladesh since August 25, when the Myanmar army launched atrocities on the Muslim minority in Rakhine State.
The SAHR team collected testimonies of atrocities like killing, rape, forced displacement, and enforced disappearance from the refugees, who wanted to return to Myanmar with “guaranteed citizenship rights, assured safety and justice”.
The team found that Rohingyas remained vulnerable to human trafficking and smuggling, while security of those belonging to Hindu community was a matter of concern.
While medical workers reported severe to moderate malnutrition, especially among children and women, access to clean and potable water in the visited camps was inadequate.
SAHR called upon the government to take long-term policies, in compliance with relevant international norms and standards, to deal with the crisis effectively.
It also urged the Myanmar government to create a conducive environment for safe return of the refugees and demanded justice for the atrocities.
Rights activist Sara Hossain and Indian journalist Bharat Bhushan, who were among the team members, also spoke on the occasion.