Monday, May 03, 2021

A refugee camp or a prison?

 At least 15 people were killed in March and April 2021 when a series of fires swept the sprawling refugee camps near Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. Many of the victims were unable to escape due to the barbed wire fences enclosing the camp. 

The Bangladeshi government started putting in the fences in late 2019, cutting off the camps that are home to 800,000.

"We can’t move around freely anymore. When the fires broke out, people tried to flee and, finding themselves trapped, hurt themselves trying to get over them. Everything is becoming more complicated. There are these fences and, at the camp entrance, there is a gate with guards, like a checkpoint. The idea is to cut us off from the rest of society. We feel like second class humans who must be hidden." explained Khin Maung who lives in Camp 13 in Ukhia, Cox’s Bazar .

Several NGOs like Human Rights Watch also denounced the installation of these fences. HRW called the fences "discriminatory" and said that they “infringe[d] upon basic rights and humanitarian needs".

Shafiur Rahman who has been working on the issue of Rohingya refugees for several years said. "In 2019, the Bangladeshi government adopted a series of extremely restrictive measures aimed at refugees. They put up these fences, but there were also internet blackouts. SIM cards were confiscated. Moreover, the fences don’t just trap all the refugees together in one big complex. They also separate the camps from one another. n my opinion, the government did this for political reasons, as a response to the growing hostility towards the Rohingya within the Bangladeshi population. They want to make them uncomfortable and push them to leave, even though they know that it is impossible for them to return to Myanmar right now. " 

Rohingya refugees fight to remove deadly barbed wire at Bangladesh camps (

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