More security sought to stop Rohingya trafficking

As human trafficking is spreading in Rohingya camps of Cox’s Bazar in multiple ways, law enforcing agencies want their manpower be doubled in the area.
Sources said law enforcers have rescued more than 200 Rohingyas in several drives across the country in recent times. The Rohingyas are often managing to flee from camps by dodging surveillance of police, Ansar, Border Guard or BGB, and different intelligence agencies.

Nahid Adnan, Additional Superintendent of Police of Ukhia circle of Cox’s Bazar said police already have five check posts around the area to prevent Rohingyas from going away from camps. BGB and other agencies are also operating in the area. We all together are intercepting hundreds while fleeing. But we have to do more.

Apart from the five police check posts, several check posts of other agencies have been working to prevent the Rohingyas from fleeing the camps. Nearly seven hundred members of the police force have been deployed for the Rohingya purpose. With the help of aid agencies, five police camps have been set up in the settlements where around one million Rohingyas are residing.

To manage the situation, the number of law enforcers as well as security infrastructure should be doubled, and local police have asked the higher authority for another five check posts and relevant facilities in Ukhia and Teknaf areas, Nahid Adnan confirmed. This week, in two separate incidents in Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar, police rescued 35 Rohingyas while they were being smuggled. On Monday three Rohingyas, a father (60), mother (50) and daughter (18) were on the way to India through Sylhet border, but were caught by police.

Mustafiz Bhuyia, officer in-charge of Railway Police told this reporter, the three Rohingyas were trying to flee after paying a broker 35 thousand taka. They also entered Bangladesh from India at January last. On Tuesday night, locals handed over 32 Rohingyas to police after traffickers had abandoned them at Nazirar Tak of Cox’s Bazar.

Police said, the traffickers lure the Rohingyas outside the camp promising to take them to Malaysia, but after taking money, they desert the innocent Rohingyas in the area. At present, the Rohingyas are still trying to move to Malaysia at the highest risk, even after the sea has become so rough. But when the sea gets calm in the coming winter season, the human trafficking situation can take a lot more turn in size, officials of the International Organization for Migration warned.

George McLeod, Public Information Officer of IOM in Cox’s Bazar told this correspondent, ‘human trafficking may be a growing problem in the camps. Poverty, absence of educational credentials and lack of formal documentation obviously leaves limited options for Rohingya refugees to support themselves or to legally migrate elsewhere.

We can’t know the scale of the issue because by its very nature referring to something that’s clandestine. However, since September 2017 IOM in coordination with implementing partners directly assisted 295 victims of trafficking (VOT) in Cox’s Bazar. Out of these, 60 percent are female and 40 percent are male. Among all VOTs, 87 percent were involved in forced labour, 6 percent in sexual exploitation. Out of the total, 71 percent are Rohingya and 28 percent are from the host community, he informed.

He also said, Bangladesh is making headway on the legal front through concerted moves to implement its 2012 anti-trafficking law, which would place Bangladesh in the international mainstream on this important human rights and political issue.