Hill Voice, 9 September 2023, Bandarban: It is learnt that an initiative has been taken to set up a repatriation camp and transit camp) at Naikyongchari in Bandarban recently, violating the government’s earlier announcement not to build Rohingya camps in Bandarban hill district to stop the infiltration and settlement of Rohingyas in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Though, there is no decision avaiable about the return of the Rohingyas yet, these camps are being built in preparation of their repatriation, said the officials of the Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC).
Officials of the RRRC office said that when the Rohingya repatriation begins, the residents of the northwestern area of Maungdow district of Rakhine state will be sent back to their homeland through the route. The two transit camps are being built in advance as preparations.
Shamim Rahman, senior assistant secretary of refugee cell, said that a fund has already been allocated from the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief for the construction of those two camps in Naikyongchari. It is said that all these settlement works are being supervised by the RRRC of Cox’s Bazar.
Naikyongchari Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Romen Sharma said in this regard, three and a half acres of land has been demanded from RRRC for a transit and repatriation camp in Ghumdhum union of Naikyongchari. A transit camp will be built on 0.20 acre of land in Ghumdhum for temporary staying during Rohingya repatriation. There will be a repatriation camp on 3.20 acres of land at Tumbru near the border adjacent area.
Meanwhile, at the news of making repatriation and transit camp for the Rohingyas in Naikyongchari area, widespread anxiety and anger have been created among the local people. According to the villagers, since the government has decided to stop any Rohingya infiltration and settlement in the CHT from the very beginning, considering the fragile situation in the CHT, the building of repatriation and transit camps for them, may increase the infiltration of Rohingyas. Even, they have constantly been trying to infiltrate and settle in CHT.
Meanwhile, the Rohingya settlement has been established in Naikyongchari since 1978. As a result, the Rohingyas living in some unions of Naikyongchari have been elected as public representatives. Besides, it is known from various sources that 30 thousand Rohingyas have already settled in Bandarban hill district alone. Even, the Rohingyas are found get involved in smuggling of drugs, arms, gold, cattle etc in the Naikyongchari border area leading the situation in the area more turbulent.
An indigenous right activist from Naikyongchari area reluctant to be named said that under various excuses, a vested quarter in the government is dying for Rohingyas to get them entered and settled in CHT.
It is worth mentioning that on October 8, 2017, in the law and order committee meeting of Bandarban hill district held in the district commissioner’s office in Bandarban, Superintendent of Police Sanjit Kumar Roy said that not a single Rohingya will be allowed to enter in CHT. A government decision has already been made in this regard.
On December 6, 2017, the Additional Secretary of the Ministry of CHT Affairs, Kamal Uddin Talukder said, considering the fragile situation and socio-economic conditions of the three hill districts, the Bangladesh government has decided not to build Rohingya camp there.
Later, in the beginning of 2019, the Minister of CHT Affairs Ministry, Bir Bahadur Ushwesing said that no Rohingya refugees can live in three hill districts of the CHT.
It should also be noted that after the violent incident on August 25, 2017 in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the Rohingya infiltration began extensively in Cox’s Bazar district adjacent to CHT. Presently, the number of Rohingya infiltrators in Bangladesh are 11 lakh 18 thousand 576.
More importantly, recently there have been reports of settlement of 30 Rohingya families in Sarai union of Lama upazila. On May 9, 2021, 45 Rohingyas were caught by the army while infiltrating in Bandarban hill district.
Previously, 120 Rohingya families were identified in 7 upazilas of Rangamati hill district. On the other hand, there are reports of 56 Rohingya families found in different upazilas of Khagrachari hill district.