Why Are Myanmar Rohingyas Becoming A Burden For Bangladesh? – OpEd

1.15 million Rohingya who have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State now exceed 1.45 million. This is an official account. Locals say the actual number will be much higher. Cox’s Bazar is now a changed township due to the large number of Rohingya refugees. As days go by, the number of Rohingyas is increasing more than the local population.

If this continues, the locals will eventually become a minority in Cox’s Bazar. Because the birth rate of Rohingyas is 4/5 times higher than that of locals. Rohingyas were given asylum on humanitarian grounds. But they have now emerged as a dangerous poison. The Myanmar government’s repatriation process is also hanging only in negotiations.

According to the latest survey of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the total population of Cox’s Bazar district is 28 lakh 23 thousand 265 people. Among them, 4 lakh 17 thousand 340 people in Sadar upazila, 5 lakh 71 thousand 277 people in Chakaria upazila, 2 lakh 14 thousand 357 people in Pekua upazila, 1 lakh 43 thousand 622 people in Kutubdia, 3 lakh 85 thousand 507 people in Maheshkhali, 3 lakh 44 thousand in Ramu. 545 people, 2 lakh 63 thousand 186 people in Ukhia, 3 lakh 33 thousand 863 people in Teknaf and 1 lakh 49 thousand 566 people in Eidgaon upazila. Meanwhile, only in the refugee camps of Ukhia and Teknaf, 1.45 million Rohingya people are living.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), an average of 90 to 100 babies are born in Rohingya camps every day. The administration is struggling to provide services to this huge influx of people. The law and order forces have to face new challenges to control the Rohingyas who are constantly involved in crime. Especially the local residents of Ukhia and Teknaf upazilas are worried about their existence and future because of the Rohingyas. They say, five years after receiving asylum, the Rohingyas staying in various camps are now behaving as if they are the real residents here.

Because in Ukhia and Teknaf, the number of Rohingyas has almost doubled compared to the local population. Local people and development workers say that the pressure of the Rohingyas coming like a stream in a very short period of time is affecting various aspects of the lives of the people of the region including agricultural land, labor market and education. Due to the pressure of the large Rohingya population, the prices of daily commodities are increasing, unemployment is becoming evident and the natural environment is also being destroyed. Overall, the living conditions of the locals have become miserable.

The burden of Rohingyas on the shoulders of Bangladesh is increasing. Despite various campaigns, they are not being motivated to adopt birth control. Over 200,000 children have been born in Rohingya camps in the last five years.

However, according to UNHCR data, the number of registered children from August 2017 to March 2023 is 1 lakh 78 thousand. More than 52 percent of the Rohingya currently living in the camps are under the age of eighteen. In addition to having more than 100 children on an average, the trend of multiple marriages and child marriages in the camps is not decreasing, but increasing day by day. Although the harmful aspects of giving birth to more children are highlighted, this does not affect their psyche.

According to sources, 12,000 acres of forest land in Ukhia and Teknaf under the control of Cox’s Bazar South Forest Division has been destroyed due to the settlement of Rohingyas. 2 lakh 12 thousand 607 toilets for Rohingyas, 20 temporary warehouses for storing relief, 13 km of power lines, 30 km of road construction and 20 km of canals have been dug. Due to this 2 thousand 231 crores worth of forest has been destroyed. The environment, forests and biodiversity are under threat.

Apart from this, the habitat and range of the Asian elephant has been damaged during the settlement. Along with the Rohingya refugee camps, there are various establishments including local businesses, settlements and arable land. Due to this reason, the Rohingyas have taken over the houses, businesses and agricultural lands of many people undeclared. Local poor people are being forced to live a subhuman life due to rising commodity prices. Similarly, due to the severe impact on the labor market, the living conditions of low-income people are being disrupted. Rohingya camps have become sanctuaries for criminals.

According to relevant sources, 32 armed terrorist groups are active in 33 camps in Ukhia and Teknaf. The inactivity of these groups is increasing day by day. It is known that there are more than five thousand armed militants in the camps. And they have more than 2 lakh unarmed supporters. A Rohingya leader himself gave such information on condition of anonymity. A large part of the Rohingya sheltered in the camp is involved in various crimes including murder, kidnapping, rape, weapons, drug trafficking, smuggling.

Drone cameras and watch towers have been installed in the Rohingya refugee camp, which has become a crime scene, to increase surveillance. But in the midst of all this surveillance, 147 murders have been committed in the last five years and five months, and 5,629 cases have been registered.

According to various sources, 279 people lost their lives in the so-called ‘gunfight’ with various forces in Cox’s Bazar during the nationwide anti-narcotics operation launched in May 2018. Among them, 109 Rohingyas, including three women. Not only among themselves, 11 Bangladeshis have been killed so far in Rohingya attacks. Apart from this, abductions are also happening often. The locals are worried about how long the security forces will be able to control the situation in the refugee camp.

The more the delay in the repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar, the worse the law and order situation in the camp is felt by the informed circles. In this world’s largest refugee camp, conflict, robbery, rape, abduction, murder are a normal picture.

According to the data of the National Task Force on Rohingya, about 1.2 million Rohingyas were present in Bangladesh after August 25, 2017. But every year more than 45 thousand new borns are added to the camps. According to that, nearly two and a half lakh people have joined the camp in five years and five months.

According to the website of the United Nations Refugee Agency, 773,972 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh after August 25, 2017, in the face of Myanmar army operations. As of 2022, the number of registered Rohingya is 9.5 million. But this is also not an accurate calculation. In real terms the number has crossed 14 lakhs. Because millions of Rohingyas have spread to different parts of the country in the last five and a half years, they did not come as such. Earlier in October 2016, at least 87 thousand Rohingya fled from Rakhine.

Cox’s Bazar, Ukhia and Teknaf have been seen, rickshaws, auto-rickshaws, battery-powered TomToms, Mahindra car drivers, food hotels, residential hotels, rural infrastructure development work, fishermen’s fishing boats, various types of vehicles and trade have been occupied by the Rohingyas. Even inside the important land port of Teknaf, Rohingyas are working as labourers. Not only Ukhia or Teknaf, the presence of Rohingya workers in Cox’s Bazar is 65 percent.

Ukhia Upazila Palongkhali Union Parishad Chairman M. Gafur Uddin Chowdhury said that the number of local people in his union is about 50 thousand. However, more than 850,000 Rohingyas are staying in 22 Rohingya camps. Due to this, public suffering is now endless.

He also said that due to the large Rohingya population, the number of locals deprived of various services and education is increasing.

The sufferings of the locals have reached extreme levels in the areas of civil certificates, birth and death registration, enrollment in the voter process etc. Because 9 government primary schools in Palangkhali need 64 teachers. But there are 33 teachers. Earlier it was possible to teach with part-time teachers, but those teachers now teach in Rohingya camps. As a result, it is not possible to eliminate the shortage of teachers in local schools.

Cox’s Bazar District Citizen Council President Abu Naser Mohammad Helal Uddin said that Bangladesh had given shelter to the Rohingyas who fled from Rakhine in Myanmar for humanitarian reasons.

But the local residents of Cox’s Bazar are worried about their future and existence because of the Rohingyas. Farmland, local labor market is going to the dependents.

An NGO official said, the situation of Rohingya can turn dire at any time. Drugs, human trafficking, hundi, clanging of illegal weapons, arson, terrorism, killings, disappearances and abductions have increased alarmingly.

He also said, NGO workers are not safe now. After dark, the Rohingya militant group controlled this huge empire.
Additional DIG Syed Harunor Rashid, commander of 14 Armed Police Battalion (APBN), said that APBN is working day and night in 33 Rohingya camps to control crime. Then some crimes are being committed. However, the overall situation is under our control. Being in a remote hilly area, there is a lot of speed to work.