Wednesday, 03 June 2020

Ukhiya, Bangladesh: Local goons with the help of the police have been collecting toll from unofficial refugees of Kutupalong camp living in small huts without getting any support from any quarter, said a refugee leader on condition of anonymity.

The refugees are surviving by working in rural areas. Therefore, everyday refugees have to go out searching for work to support their family members. They work as rickshaw pullers, collect fire wood from forests, fish in the Bay of Bengal, work in paddy fields and vegetable farms and as daily labourers.

They have to pay Taka 10 per head to the local goons named Shuna Ali and Holil living near the refugee camp while the refugees go to work.  If the refugees do not pay the money, the local goons inform the police over telephone to arrest them in Ukia market. So, the refugees are compelled to pay the money. The goons have an understanding with the local police as well as a local influential man named Boktia. Some of the refugees said that Boktia did not know anything regarding toll collection. But the local goons said that they have been collecting toll on the orders of the man, said another refugee from the camp who also did not want to be named for security reasons.

Besides, the local goons also collect Taka 15 per week from small shops which are inside the camp. If the refugees do not pay the money, the camp police, who are providing security, arrest them and extort money.

At present, there are over 40,000 refugees living in Kutupalong unofficial refugee camp. It has some refugees who came recently from Burma and some recently driven out from Chilttagong Hill tracts and other areas of the border side, according to an elderly refugee from the camp.

Their living standard is very low. Some of the refugees are passing their days and nights without food. Now, they are suffering from acute cold, so, most of the children and elderly refugees are suffering from asthma and pneumonia diseases for lack of sufficient shelter and warm clothes, said a woman refugee.