Envoys of the USA, Canada and European Union (EU), and representatives of INGOs (international non-government organisations) have expressed their concern over the government measures to tighten monitoring in the Rohingya camps.
They expressed their concern to the Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal on Thursday at his secretariat office and wanted to know whether the camps would be turned into some kind of jails.
In a bid to curb crime in the Rohingya camps, the government has initiated several measures including erecting barb-wire fence around each camp, installation of watch tower and creating a special unit of armed police battalion.
Among others, US Ambassador Robert Miller and Canadian High Commissioner Benoit Prefontain were there in the team.
Commenting on the discussion of the meeting, the home minister said, “They have expressed their concern but we have briefed them about our measures to tighten monitoring in the camps”.
The home minister was briefing the reporters at his secretariat office following the meeting with the delegations.
“We told them that there is a surge in criminal activities among the Rohingya recently. They have killed a law enforcer and a political leader. Many of them are involved in Yaba trafficking. And there is issue of human trafficking also,” he said.
We need to prevent these crimes and that is why in line with the directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina we have started the process to fence the camps, the home minister added.
According to the minister, the restriction on the usage of mobile phones and internet was necessary to stop the exposure of the refugees to international radical elements and terrorist organisations.
The home minister told the envoys that the international and local volunteers can carry on their humanitarian activities as usual.
On the issue of visa restriction for the international volunteers, the minister said that government allows all volunteers-who are engaged in the humanitarian responses-to come here but some measures have been taken to stop infiltration of terrorist elements into the camps.
“Very often we are told by the Myanmar side that some terrorists flee Myanmar and take shelter in the camps. We do want to prevent this,” he added.
The camps will run in line with the international practices which are common in other refugee camps in Turkey and Syria, the minister told the diplomats.
The minister said that the decision of shifting some Rohingya to Bhasanchar island would be finalised after the return of the prime minister, who is now in the USA.
Fencing is necessary so that Rohingya can not be integrated with the local people or cannot spread across the country, he argued.
The minister also disclosed that the government has already instructed the concerned agencies to teach the Rohingya children as per the syllabus followed in Rakhine state.
“It will be Rohingya language and curriculum,” he said.
He, however, categorically said that the government did not have any negative impression about the huge Rohingya assembly, held in Kutupalong camp on August 25.
“They assembled there to let the world inform about their human rights, about the urgency to return home in Myanmar. So we have not taken it negatively,” he said.
The minister, however, said that the quick repatriation seems to be uncertain, and added that the government and the international community are trying hard for that.
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