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Caritas helps train border guards

Workshop emphasizes better communication between forces and civilians

BGB personnel destroy illegal drugs seized from smugglers BGB personnel destroy illegal drugs seized from smugglers
  • Liton Leo Das, Rajshahi
  • Bangladesh
  • February 27, 2012
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Caritas yesterday held a training session for the Border Guard Bangladesh to help strengthen their capacity in securing the border more efficiently and to crack down on cross-border criminal activity.

Suklesh George Costa, a Caritas trainer, said the key to greater effectiveness was to form closer relationships among the communities near the border.

“Besides patrolling, BGB personnel need to involve more people in the process of securing the border and stopping crime,” he said.

“They should form national and local taskforces to counter trafficking and smuggling, and ensure disseminating information to people at risk and enhancing cross-border coordination.”

More than 50 people, mostly BGB staff, along with a few government officials, attending the workshop.

Costa further noted the importance of involving civilians in the security process, most of whom were ignorant of trafficking laws.

“The main reason is lack of coordination between related government agencies and NGOs. Most often, BGB personnel are poorly trained on various important issues or not trained at all,” Costa said.

Costa added that Caritas has organized programs to enhance awareness of border issues since 2002, but recent strategies for improving security have come after a report from 2008 UNDP report that ranked Bangladesh as the country with the second-highest risk of human trafficking across its borders.

The BGB estimates that as many as 20,000 mostly women and children are smuggled out of Bangladesh every year.

“Human trafficking is the second-largest [illegal] business, with yearly turnover of around US$7-$10 million,” he said.

A BGB staffer identified only as Karim, 36, said the border guards face numerous obstacles to providing efficient security.

“We have financial inability to follow up various government and non-government activities to curb border offences. It is also difficult for us to get legal issues solved.”

Karim said a shortage of human resources was also a problem, with only one man per kilometer of border in his area.

“It’s really a tough job to patrol the border 24 hours a day with such a limited force.”

BGB Colonel Fazlul Huq said that crime along the border has increased sharply and led to rising tensions with neighbors.

“Crimes along the border not only hurt the economy but also cross-border relationships. We often organize flag meetings with border troops of neighboring countries [India and Myanmar] to coordinate border security.”

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