Adviser to Bangladeshi FM visits Rohingya refugee camps

Kaladan Press, 13 January 2011,

Teknaf, Bangladesh: An adviser to Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Dr. Gohar Rezbi visited the Burmese refugee camps of Nayapara and Kutupalong on January 6, and met with concerned authorities of the camps regarding the refugees, said a refugee teacher from Nayapara camp.

At first, the adviser, accompanied by a delegation of officers, went to Ukhiya to meet with Rohingya Resistance Committee (RRC) members from the Cox’s Bazaar district and held a meeting with them to discuss refugee matters. The RRC members demanded immediate repatriation of the refugees, said a local teacher from Ukhiya.

Afterwards, the adviser and the delegation visited the official Kutopalong Camp to oversee the situation of the camp, including the nearby unofficial Kutupalong Camp, and asked about the situation of the refugees from the concerned authorities, said a refugee leader from Kutupalong camp.

The delegation members have been identified as Food and Disaster Secretary Doctor M. Aslam Alam, head of Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC), Sub-officer of UNHCR Mr. Stephen, Assistant Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Nurul Alam Nezami, Teknaf Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) Commander Lt. Col Mujamel Hossain, and Teknaf Union Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Nizam Uddin.

After visiting the Kutupalong camp, group traveled to Nayapara Refugee Camp and a held a meeting with concerned authorities. The adviser asked the Camp-in-Charge about the situation of refugees and the problems they have been facing in the camp. The delegation, after overseeing the camp, then left for Teknaf to meet with RRC committee members.

After arrival at Teknaf, they held a meeting with local leaders of the Rohingya Resistance Committee (RRC) of Teknaf and discussed refugee issues. The local leaders from Teknaf told the adviser that they also want to see the immediate repatriation of the Rohingya refugees from Burma.

The adviser asked all of the local leaders, including the RCC members in the border areas, to be patient regarding refugee matters as the government is also being pressured by the international community regarding refugee issues. The government has procedures in place to settle refugee problems, according to a local elder from Ukhiya.

On December 30, a group of RRC members made a long march to Cox’s Bazaar from Teknaf, a distance of nearly 84 kilometers, on foot to raise awareness about their displeasure with the Rohingya people among the government and local people. They submitted a seven-point list of demands to the government. These included: to create lists of illegal Rohingyas and seize lands which they have been occupying, to ban marriage between Rohingyas and the local population, to exclude Rohingyas from voter lists, to stop the validity of papers for Rohingyas to buy land, to ban Rohingyas from the local wage market, and to take stringent steps to stop Rohingyas from illegal entry into Bangladesh.

The RRC was formed at Ukiya of Cox’s Bazaar district last year with the aim of encouraging the government to repatriate Rohingya refugees immediately. Currently, it has branches in Teknaf and Cox’s Bazaar Town. The RRC has said that if their demands are not met by January 15, they will compel the government to act against the Rohingyas through a mass movement in Cox’s Bazaar.

Because of the RCC’s demands, the adviser of the Foreign Minister held meetings with RCC members in Ukhiya, Teknaf and Cox’s Bazaar, as well as the refugee camps, said a local Politician from Teknaf on condition of anonymity.

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