Rohingyas desperate to leave camps

With more than a year passed without any significant development regarding their repatriation, the Rohingyas living in different refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar are becoming more and more frustrated about their future. Abusing their utter frustration, a vested group of money mongers have become active recently, to lure them out of the camps promising to send them to Malaysia or Middle Eastern countries, said officials.

Sources said in recent times, coastguards and other law enforcers rescued more than 200 Rohingyas in several drives from across the country. Most of them were rescued from coastal region, prior to being trafficked to different Middle East and South East Asian countries; and were trying to reach their near and dear ones.

A girl (20) of camp-18 in Balukhali, with a group of 29 Rohingyas was caught by law enforcers from Moheshkhali Island in Cox’s Bazar, just before boarding on a boat to Malaysia, to reunite with his husband. The girl told this reporter, I want to meet my spouse who is living in Malaysia. I recently talked to him over telephone. As there is no chance for him to come to Bangladesh, I want to go to him.

ISCG an umbrella of aid agencies working with Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar, also a former officials of IOM Shoikat Biswas, spokesperson of Inter Sector Co-ordination Group, told The Bangladesh Post, "We talked to several Rohingyas who have been rescued. Many of them were determined to make the risky journey in a bid to reunite with their family members in Malaysia. Such type of activities is known as Irregular Migration."

"Rohingyas are now desperately searching a reliable source to leave Bangladesh for Malaysia, or other destinations, where their family members and relatives are living," he added. Trafficking of Rohingyas is often committed by a network of individuals active in more than one country. In some cases, these traffickers associate themselves with businessmen and traders mainly in travelling and tourism industry as well as import and export related-businesses.

Omar Sadeque, Case Management Co-coordinator of Young Power Social Action YPSA, a partner organisation of IOM in Cox’s Bazar said, "More than half of the Rohingyas rescued during last few days before being trafficked to Malaysia are women. The fact is that young women living in a Cox’s Bazar camp somehow are married off over the phone to unmarried Rohingya men living in Malaysia and elsewhere. 

But the problem is those Rohingya males cannot come to Bangladesh due to lack of legal documents. That’s why, the female Rohingyas become so desperate to meet their male counterparts.” Sadque said "The situation is different now. Earlier, Rohingya males dared to make the risky sea journey in search of better living. But now some Rohingya women are taking the life risk as they are frustrated over the life prospect in refugee camps.”

“Sometimes the traffickers lure the Rohingyas outside the camp promising to take them to Malaysia, but after taking money, they desert the innocent Rohingyas in any part of the country," he added. Lieutenant Shah Zia Ur Rahman, media officer of Coast Guard east zone told the Bangladesh Post: “Some traffickers have also been arrested in drives made to rescue the Rohingya victims. During primary interrogation, the traffickers informed that their only duty was to send the Rohingyas to large boats waiting in deep sea. To send the Rohingyas to Malaysia is responsibility of another team of traffickers.”