UCA News

Bangladesh

Mysterious murders rattle Rohingya refugees

Bangladesh to beef up security for one million people who fled Myanmar after military clampdown

Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Mysterious murders rattle Rohingya refugees

Rohingya refugees stage a demonstration for their rights on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr in Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, on June 16. (Photo by AFP)

Share this article :
A series of killings in the refugee camps of southeastern Bangladesh has sparked fear among members of the displaced ethnic-Muslim minority as well as aid workers.

The unsolved murders of 19 people in Cox's Bazar area camps, along with a spate of robberies and myriad violent crimes, have prompted a decision to deploy 1,000 additional police.

The murders have occurred since August 2017 when a military crackdown in neighboring Myanmar's Rakhine state caused a new wave of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee.

The international Reuters news agency reported on July 4 that most of the refugee camp murders happened in attacks at night, when there were less security personnel, by men variously armed with pistols, knives and sticks.

"We have been investigating 19 murder cases but have not reached conclusions yet," police superintendent Chailaw Marma told ucanews.com.

There were 2,500 police already guarding the camps, as well as some soldiers and border guards, but this was insufficient, he added.

About 300 Rohingya had been arrested for alleged involvement in crimes.

Cox's Bazar is home to about one million Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh to escape periodic bouts of deadly persecution in Rakhine, just across the border.

Abdul Kalam, 36, a leader in Balukhali camp, said he went into hiding for several weeks after being threatened anonymously by telephone callers claiming he received more humanitarian aid than they had.

Nurul Amin, 40, a Rohingya community leader in Kutupalong camp, argues the announcement that more police would be provided came too late. "If the decision came earlier, those lives wouldn't have been lost," Amin said.

He believed additional police would significantly improve security, but for now many people living in the camps or helping to run them were still afraid.

The spate of murders and killings had frightened the aid community, said Mazharul Islam, Cox’s Bazar-based disaster management officer for the Catholic welfare agency Caritas Chittagong.

"Every day we go to the camps with fear and without adequate safety. We have instructed our female staff to go in a group, not alone," he told ucanews.com.

"I believe poverty, lack of livelihood and desperation are reasons why the Rohingya remain vulnerable to criminal activities like killings and robberies."

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
 
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM

Publisher

Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."