The Humanitarian crisis in Myanmar has led about 430,000 Muslims to seek shelter in the neighboring country Bangladesh recently. The total number of Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh has reached to around 700,000. While Bangladesh has opened up its borders for these victimized Muslims, yet it has now imposed a telecommunication ban on them.
According to the latest official statement, Bangladesh has restricted telecommunication companies from selling SIM cards to the Rohingya refugees. The newly imposed ban, therefore, does not allow the telecommunication companies to sell mobile phones connected to the refugees.[irp]
Enayet Hossain who is appointed as a senior officer at the telecom ministry disclosed the news. He said that for now, Rohingya Muslims cannot get themselves equipped with a mobile phone connection. No SIM cards shall be issued to these Rohingya Muslims. This ban has been imposed for the security purposes. There were some security concerns which called for this certain restriction.
There is four mobile phone providing companies in Bangladesh. All four of them have been notified about the ban. If any company is involved in violating the new law, it shall face heavy fines. As soon as the ban is uplifted, these mobile phone companies can sell mobiles to the refugees.
Tarana Halim who is a junior Telecom minister said that there are security reasons that have led us to take this decision. However, his justification in name of security reasons was incomplete as he did not highlight even a single security threat that these refugees will pose if they get equipped with a mobile phone connection.
He, however, added that these refugees were allowed to enter the state of Bangladesh on humanitarian grounds, we have let them enter but we cannot put our security at stake by allowing them to make calls. He also highlighted that Bangladesh is very concerned about its security.
It is a state that does not allow its own citizens, who fail to provide an ID card, to hold SIM cards. These are necessary steps that are taken for the sake of security and prosperity of Bangladesh. He however assured that the ban is not imposed forever.
It would be uplifted as soon as the Bangladesh’s authorities are able to provide these refugees with biometric ID cards. The provision of ID cards is a long process. According to the army, the process of equipping the 430,000 refuges with biometric ID cards may take 6 months.
This is not the only restriction that Rohingya Muslims are facing in Bangladesh. These refugees whose rights were being brutality violated in Myanmar are forced to live in camps that are placed just near the border. Many of these, around tens of thousands, don’t even have a camp and are living without a shelter upon them.
The soldiers and policemen have been given special orders to not allow them to settle in towns and nearby cities. So they do not allow them to move around and enter into cities and towns of Bangladesh. Roads have been blocked. Roads that connected the camp area to major cities are blocked and these refugees are facing humanitarian crisis there. They are in a shortage of food, water, toilets, and shelter.
According to Iqbal Hossain, the police chief at Cox Bazaar, 11 check-posts have been set up along the Cox’s bazaar. These check posts are there to stop Rohingya Muslims from entering into major cities and towns. Till now almost 5,100 refugees have been caught at check posts and returned back to their camps.
Source: Arab News