Narco trade rose alarmingly since Rohingya influx

Say researchers, officials

Trafficking of illegal drugs, notably methamphetamine or 'yaba', from Myanmar to all its neighbouring countries has risen alarmingly since the 2017 Rohingya influx in Bangladesh.

This poses serious threats to security in the region, researchers and officials have said.

They called upon the international community to take urgent action against Myanmar – producer and supplier of the drug that harms consumers both physically and mentally.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said police across Chattogram division seized 34.76 lakh Yaba pills in 2016. The number increased to 1.2 crore in 2018 and 2.59 crore in 2021.

"The Rohingyas are not the consumers but the carriers," he said at a seminar, organised by the Diplomats World Publication on "Rohingyas & Narco Terrorism", at the capital's Radisson Blu Water Garden yesterday.

Kamal said the long, porous Bangladesh-Myanmar border is used for drug trafficking, which is leading to more criminal activities. Those who become addicted may also become easy prey for extremist organisations.

Imtiaz Ahmed, professor at Dhaka University's international relations, in his keynote speech, said Myanmar has historically been known as a producer of opium.

"When poppy production decreased during the pandemic-induced lockdown, drug lords and syndicates shifted their focus on the synthetic drug trade."

Quoting a Reuters report, he said in 2022 alone authorities in Laos, Thailand and Myanmar seized 90 million methamphetamine pills, and 4.4 tonnes of crystal meth.

"It implies that due to increased instability since the military coup in Myanmar, the trade has gained more traction in this region," Imtiaz said.

The yaba is transported from Maungdaw in Rakhine to the Tombru border, from where it seeps into the Rohingya camps situated just beside the zero-line border along Bangladesh, he said.

At least 70 lakh yaba pills, at the cost of Tk 210 crore, are consumed by Bangladeshis every day.

There were 56 drug-related deaths in 2017. It went up to 396 in 2018 and was 256 in 2019, he said. 

International relations analysts said Bangladesh has already been burdened with more than a million refugees since 2017, and now the drug trafficking – which is enough to destabilise the entire region -- is adding to that.

Delwar Hossain, another Dhaka University professor of international relations, said Myanmar's regime is complicit in and a beneficiary of illegal drug trade, which is no less than narco-terrorism.

"We need to identify the criminals and bring them to book to keep the trade in check."

They called for sanctions against Myanmar in this regard.

Masud Bin Momen, foreign secretary; Brig Gen (Retd) M Shakhawat Hussain, security analyst; Jahangirnagar University's Professor Shahab Enam Khan; British High Commissioner Robert Chatterton Dickson; Saudi Ambassador Issa bin Youssef Al-Dahilan; Malaysian High Commissioner Haznah Md Hashim and Brunei High Commissioner Haji Haris bin Haji Othman also spoke at the seminar.


পেঁয়াজ-আদা-চিনিতে কাটেনি অস্থিরতা, সবজির বাজারে কিছুটা স্বস্তি
২৪ মিনিট আগে|নিত্যপণ্য মূল্য

পেঁয়াজ-আদা-চিনিতে কাটেনি অস্থিরতা, সবজির বাজারে কিছুটা স্বস্তি

বাজারে আজ শনিবার দেশি পেঁয়াজ বিক্রি হচ্ছে প্রতি কেজি ৮০ টাকায়। তবে ভারতের আমদানি করা পেঁয়াজ বিক্রি হচ্ছে ৫০ থেকে ৫২ টাকায়।