Affecting the country’s tourism industry: Disaster Management and Relief Minister

Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, Bir Bikram, said on April 8, the Rohingyas will be relocated from Cox’s Bazar district to Thengar Char of Noakhali district to avoid from putting the environment of tourism hotspot Cox’s Bazar at stake.

“It’s affecting the country’s tourism industry.”

Disaster Management and Relief Minister also ordered to conduct mobile court operations against the Rohingya who entered Cox’s Bazar without permission of the concerned authorities and to issue identity cards for each of the refugees while visiting a refugee camp at Kutubpalong in Cox’s Bazar on April 8, said an official release.

The Minister accompanied by other officials visited the tailoring center, schools, health center and others places where INGOs work in Kutuapolong official camp, said a refugee Mazi Sayed Alam from the camp.

The minister also asked the concerned authorities to make sure all the registered refugees hold identity cards.

The minister asked the law enforcers to be stricter and more active in maintaining law and order in the district so that the women and children of the refugee camp cannot engage in unethical activities.

The minister, also member of executive committee of the ruling Awami League, stressed the need for giving the Rohingyas with education in Burmese language and imparting them with technical training.

“We are worried and confused about the government move to shift the camps”, said the secretary of Kutupalong refugee camp. “If the relocation is to better places, we welcome the move as we are leading a miserable life here. But we can’t be sure”.

But, refugees are reluctant to go there as it is flooded in rainy season, said the refugee leaders from the camp.

“This is home for us now, it is peaceful here.” said Nur Alam, who crossed the Naf river that separates the two countries in a tiny boat in 1991. “We are not sure we will be safe elsewhere.”

About 33,000 men, women and children live crammed into two dilapidated camps in the villages of Kutupalong and Nayapara, near the Myanmar border, that are supported by the United Nations and the Bangladesh government. They are the lucky ones.

There are anywhere from 200,000 to 400,000 more Rohingyas in nearby camps and hills whom the government will not even recognize as temporary refugees lest it weaken its case to send them back to Myanmar, where they say they face persecution.

“We hope that if any move takes place, it will be carried out in a dignified manner. The success of any relocation will depend on the refugees’ perception of living conditions at the new location,” said UNHCR spokeswoman Onchita Shadman.

“The refugees are already in a vulnerable condition. The government should not do anything that can make them more vulnerable,” said C R Abrar, coordinator of the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) at Dhaka University, explaining that the relocation announcement has created anxieties among the refugees. He argued: “If the government wants to relocate, it must ensure that the refugees get all the facilities they are getting now.”

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