Bangladesh: Clashes raise fears for safety of Rohingya

Rights group calls for protection of Rohingya refugees, Bangladeshi officials tout repatriation to Myanmar as only solution
SM Najmus Sakib – October 09, 2020

DHAKA, Bangladesh (Anadolu) – Calls for protection of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are growing following days of violence in camps in the southern Cox’s Bazar district.

In a statement on Friday, Amnesty International urged Bangladeshi authorities to ensure safety of Rohingya refugees, following violent clashes between criminal gangs that have killed at least eight people and injured hundreds of others in camps in Cox’s Bazar since Oct. 4.

At least 2,000 Rohingya refugees have been forced to flee their shelters to other camps since violence broke out between two rival factions seeking to control the illicit trade of contraband drugs inside the camps, read the statement.

It said around a dozen shelters in Kutupalong refugee camp were burned to the ground on Oct. 7.

Saad Hammadi, Amnesty International’s South Asia campaigner, said the situation inside the camps was still “highly precarious.”

“Unless the authorities take the necessary action to quell the violence and protect refugees, there’s a serious risk of further bloodshed,” he said.

“Those suffering most are the Rohingya refugees caught in the middle. The Bangladeshi authorities must heighten security inside the camps as long as necessary to ensure their safety and launch an immediate and impartial investigation into the violence to bring those responsible to justice.”

According to Rohingya refugees who spoke to Amnesty International, the violence was sparked in part by a battle for control over the trade of methamphetamine tablets, a recreational drug manufactured in Myanmar and smuggled into Bangladesh.

‘Under control’

“The unrest is now under control. People in charge of the camps are working with law enforcers to keep the situation under control,” Mohammad Shamsu Douza, additional refugee relief and repatriation commissioner, told Anadolu Agency on Friday.

He said police and military personnel had been deployed at the camps, and were working with local government officials and other field workers.

“Such incidents are a threat to local and regional peace. We had no hand in these clashes; it was their [Rohingya] internal feud,” he said, adding that the “ultimate solution lies in the return of Rohingya to their own homeland of Myanmar.”

Bangladesh’s foreign minister also condemned the violence earlier this week, terming it a “sad incident.”

A K Abdul Momen said the violence lent credence to Bangladesh’s view that resolving the Rohingya crisis is essential for regional peace.

He urged the international community to find a durable solution to the Rohingya crisis “through their peaceful repatriation to Myanmar.”

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