Bangladesh has declared Cox’s Bazar – which hosts 1.1 million Rohingya – as the country’s first coronavirus Red Zone.
Put under an immediate two-week lockdown, Cox’s Bazar is designated at maximum risk of Covid-19 infection.
Immigrants balik Chittagong from whence they came
Chittagong (the Rohingya motherland) is a division in Bangladesh. The Chittagong division itself has 11 districts; one of these districts is Cox’s Bazar.
Cox’s Bazar has eight upazila or subdistricts, and in two of these – Teknaf and Ukhia – the Rohingya presently make up at least one third of their total populations.
Before the advent of this Covid pandemic, Cox’s Bazar was already flagged as incubator for potential epidemics of contagious diseases. A former military advisor to the President of Bangladesh, Munir Muniruzzaman, saw that the mass exodus of Rohingya – as at September 2017 – was already placing “enormous stress on the limited resources of Bangladesh”.
The Rohingya are today living in some thirty refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
”Many of the arriving refugees are already carrying a number of diseases, including TB, skin diseases and HIV/AIDS etc,” wrote Maj. Gen. Muniruzzaman (Ret.) in a paper the same month that year for Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
Rohingya children are not vaccinated.
Health organizations have also been warning that living conditions in the Rohingya camps are a hazard. Their unclean water and overflowing toilets coupled with monsoon floods make it conducive for communicable disease such as cholera and diphtheria to spread.
The world’s least integrated ethnic minority
A few days ago, Bangladesh‘s beleaguered Foreign Minister Abdul Kalam Abdul Momen threw up his hands in despair.
The Rohingya situation has become untenable for Bangladesh, Momen lamented, with the crisis certainly aggravated by Myanmar‘s failure to repatriate a single Rohingya refugee to date.
Although Myanmar has been making sporadic reassuring diplomatic noises since 2018, the truth of the matter is “no government in Naypyitaw will likely ever agree to take back” the troublesome outsiders.
The Burmese overwhelmingly don’t want Rohingya returning to their country.
“The Rohingya is a very paradoxical issue,” explained Bangkok‘s Chulalongkorn University political science professor Thitinan Pongsudhirak, speaking to VOA two days ago.
“To the outside world, there’s a lot of sympathy and outcry,” Thitinan said. “Within Myanmar, it’s the opposite.”
The friction between the Burmese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims can be put down to differences of religion, race, language and culture. But with the Bengalis in Chittagong, Rohingya share a common faith, ethnicity, dialect and culture. Still, Bangladesh’s Bengalis are not all that keen to welcome home their long-separated kinsmen.
Rohingya immediately turned Cox’s Bazar into ‘high-risk crime zone’
Today because of the Rohingya’s widespread presence, Cox’s Bazar is a maximum risk coronavirus zone. And because of the influx of 720,000 Rohingya from Rakhine between August and September 2017, Cox’s Bazar is similarly marked as “a high-risk crime zone”.
Only just one year following their arrival, internal conflicts between Rohingyas at the Ukhiya and Teknaf camps caused the crime rate in Cox’s Bazar “to skyrocket“.
On 1 Sept 2018, senior assistant superintendent of police Md Saiful Hasan told the Dhaka Tribune newspaper that international aid agencies had been providing the Rohingya with food and other necessities.
These surplus goods provided by UNHRC, UN World Food Programme and the World Bank grants are then sold by Rohingya for cash. Rice, lentils, soybean oil, powdered milk, biscuits and relief items like tarpaulin, utensils, buckets and blankets are taken to nearby markets where they’re bought by Bangladeshi locals.
ASP Saiful, who is in charge of the Cox’s Bazar district, said the culture of dependency promoted by the charities was counter productive.
He added that the handouts caused “a big portion of Rohingya youths [to] remain idle and become engaged in domestic violence, internal feuds, and gender-based violence”.
“Rohingya refugees are a threat” — Bangladeshi sociology lecturer
The 2017 deluge of Rohingya are threat to both local Bangladeshis and earlier waves of Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, said lecturer Md Reazul Islam who teaches sociology at Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University.
In his paper published in the Asian Law & Public Policy Review journal, Annual Volume 5 – 2020 Edition, Reazul wrote in the abstract: “the Rohingya influx has transformed the district [of Cox’s Bazar] and the life of the people of the district in a nasty manner. A number of Rohingya refugees are committing various crimes like robbery, kidnapping, rape, drug peddling and human trafficking”.
For details on Rohingya recruited as drug mules to smuggle amphetamine (called ‘yaba’ in the local dialect), read HERE.
Other Rohingya violent crimes – shootout with police, murder, robbery, kidnapping and rape as well as pimping young girls – have been extensively reported in the Bangladeshi media the last couple of years.
A 17 Nov 2018 article in the Dhaka Tribune quoted a Cox’s Bazar refugee camp leader Lalu Majhi as saying the Rohingya carrying out criminal acts “are not shy about assaulting people at the slightest provocation”.
Nonetheless a host of Chinese virtue signalers – such as DAP’s born again Christian Heidy Quah – are clamouring for more and more ’refugees’ to be allowed to reside in Malaysia (see Malay Mail tweet below).
Some Rohingya indeed prefer coming to Malaysia. When the Rohingya get here, they will stay in Malay areas like Selayang and not Bangsar which are the latte-sipping social media enclaves.
Rohingya compete for jobs and resources with Malays. They’re not going to take over the Bangsarians’ jobs. There are reasons why Chinese are so keen on illegal immigrants, which I will discuss later.