Narinjara news

Floating Rohingyas of Teknaf

Teknaf, 16
th September 03:  Seven hundred and fifty families of floating Rohingyas from Burma have been living in abject poverty and deplorable conditions in the neighbourhood of Teknaf Kindergarten School, causing deterioration of the law and order situation of this small border town in the southeastern tip of Bangladesh, situated just across the river Naaf from Maungdaw in western Burma.

The rise in prostitution in the town has increasingly been blamed upon the Rohingyas who have been living in the area for some time.  The local people have raised high concern about the spread of the deadly AIDS through unchecked prostitution among some of the Rohingyas who live unaccounted and uncared for. 

The situation was created when the Thana Nirbahi Officer (township administrative official) ordered all of the floating Rohingya population in the vicinity out of the rented houses in Teknaf Municipality.  Since then about 750 Rohingya families have been living in temporary shacks constructed in front of the Teknaf Upazila administration office building.  The crowding of such a large number of floating populations has caused havoc to the basic hygiene and sanitation of the town.      The Rohingyas have often unfairly been blamed for the rising crime rate, like robbery, drug pedalling, extortion, murder, prostitution and rape, said a college professor. 

Besides that the local workforce has been blaming the Rohingyas for taking share in their labour market.  ‘Rohingyas would work just for two square meals a day and a bed to pass the night, while the owners of a teashop has to pay at least one thousand taka a month beside board and bed to a restaurant worker,’ Abu Mansoor, a hotel and restaurant worker in the town said. 

Local people complained that the role of the police in checking the prostitution among the Rohingya women is mysterious.  Concerned individuals in the locality last week formally appealed to the local Member of Parliament, Mohammad Shahjahan for taking necessary actions in uprooting the illegal Rohingyas and repatriating them to Burma for the ‘cleanliness’ of the town. 

Though there is an official repatriation of Rohingyas going on facilitated by the UNHCR, everyday hundreds of Rohingyas cross the border to Bangladesh for work and medical treatment in the border town.  The influx of Rohingyas also causes a number of problems to the local residents including that of deteriorating law and order situation and environmental degradation as many of them cut down sections of government reserve forests and get settled in an unauthorized way and the law enforcement agencies do not take actions, said a college professor in the town.   The seven hundred fifty families are not registered with the two Burmese refugee camps in the upazila (township). 

Rohingyas who have recently been repatriated to Burma allege that due to joblessness in the border areas inside the country and because of the Burmese junta imposed restrictions on the travel of the Rohingyas; it has become very difficult for the Rohingya people to survive.  “Without jobs and the right to livelihood where can we go for an earning?” asked a young Rohingya woman who illegally came to Teknaf recently while carrying a bag of rice back on her return.  #