The lack of security and extent of violence inside the Rohingya camps as evident from an investigative report in the latest issue of Star Weekend (“Murder in the Camps”, September 14) should be a major concern for the government and international community. It goes to show how precarious the situation is.
Thousands of Rohingya men, especially the young men are in these camps. They are unemployed, hungry, in need of cash and most of all, frustrated about their uncertain future. Some of them are getting involved in crime—drug and human trafficking, hijacking, gang robbery, rape and murder. This means that the Rohingya, after all the trauma they have suffered in their home country, are now again under threat of violence in the only place they thought they were safe—the refugee camps in Bangladesh. And many of the perpetrators are their own people.
According to the report, in the last one year, at least 22 Rohingyas have been killed in the unregistered camps. Official records also show six cases of rape, 68 narcotics related cases and 142 cases related to robbery and petty offences. Women and girls in particular, are extremely vulnerable as previous reports have shown, with many of them becoming victims of sexual violence, harassment and trafficking. Although more police camps have been set up, the complexities arising from thousands of hapless people living in such dire conditions are just too overwhelming.
It is a situation that is inevitable when thousands of desperate people are forced to stay in cramped, unhygienic conditions for months on end. While the authorities are obligated to beef up security as much as possible and catch the perpetrators especially the gangs (within and outside the camps) that are carrying out these criminal activities, a sustainable solution is crucial. This means safe repatriation of these people with full citizenship rights. The Rohingyas cannot indefinitely be kept in these refugee camps.