Bangladesh now hosts around 11 lakh Rohingyas, of whom 743,000 came during the latest influx following the brutal military crackdown in Rakhine State beginning on August 2017. One of the most pressing issues is the fact that the stateless people, mainly armed youths, are increasingly getting involved in criminal activities. The crimes include drug peddling, theft, kidnapping, extortion, murder and rape.
Thousands of young men are living in these camps. Many of them are unemployed and they are in need of cash. They are worried about their uncertain future. They are like walking bombs waiting to explode due to their uncertain future. So, it is not surprising that they have been increasingly getting involved with different crimes.Some of them are involved in crimes like drug peddling, human trafficking, hijacking, gang robbery, rape and murder. Trafficking and drug rings that include Rohingya men have become notoriously active in the camps putting the lives of these Myanmar nationals waiting to be repatriated home. Young Rohingya women are the most vulnerable group who easily fall victim to violence either inside or outside their makeshift camps. Many of the perpetrators are their own people. At least 40 Rohingyas have been killed in ‘gun battles’ with the law enforcers since they fled to Bangladesh. The lack of security and extent of violence inside the Rohingya camps is a manifestation of a precarious situation in the life of the inhabitants.
Although there is police presence in the Rohingya camps and have been fenced off, it appears that more is need to be done to combat the rising crimes. Against this backdrop, the authorities have taken a wise decision of further beefing up security in the camps. A new police battalion is going to start its operation in the Cox’s Bazar camps to maintain law and order. We hope the new team will be able to catch those involved in criminal activities.
It is well understood that the Rohingyas need to return to their homes in Myanmar for a sustainable solution to the crisis. These hapless people cannot indefinitely be kept in these camps. The Myanmar government should immediately create the right conditions for their safe and dignified return to their homes.