DHAKA: Bangladesh is set to erect barbed-wire fencing, guard towers and cameras around Rohingya camps, the home minister said on Thursday citing security concerns, in a move critics said would turn the refugee settlements into prisons.
Dhaka has been growing frustrated with the Rohingya in Bangladesh — who number nearly a million — since the collapse of a recent repatriation attempt to encourage them to return home to Myanmar. The stateless Muslim minority live in large camps in southeastern border towns, with the majority having fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017 after a military crackdown.
“There are three large camps. We’ll fence the three camps with barbed wires,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters on Wednesday.
“Watch towers and CCTV cameras” would also be set up to monitor activity in the Cox’s Bazar district settlements, he added. A rights activist, who asked to remain anonymous, condemned the move and said the fencing would “transform the camps into a big prison”.
Refugees are already forbidden to leave the squalid camps, although their sprawling nature means authorities have been unable to police the Rohingya’s movements.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2019