Fresh hill cutting ‘by NGOs’ to expand Rohingya camps angers locals

Cox’s Bazar: Amid the government’s efforts to send back the displaced Rohingyas to their homeland in Myanmar, some NGOs are reportedly trying to build new makeshift camps for them destroying hills and forests, angering local people.

Locals alleged that a number of NGOs are building new camps for the expansion of Rohingya settlements in a vast area under Thaiongkhali of Ukhia upazila uprooting trees and cutting hills despite government restriction on further hill cutting.

Many trees are being uprooted due to the construction of the makeshift houses, which drew a huge flak from local residents.

Locals alleged that some local NGOs and INGOs are pocketing money from the foreign aid meant for Rohingyas in the name of development works in the Rohingya camps.

When Deputy Commissioner of Cox’s Bazar Kamal Hossain came to know about the matter, he ordered immediate eviction of the new establishments.

Talking to UNB, Kamal Hossain said, “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has instructed not to establish any new Rohingya camps by cutting hills. Now the move to expand Rohingya camps bulldozing hills secretly is regretful.”

M Gafur Uddin Chowdhury, Palongkhali Union Parishad Chairman, said, “Some NGOs are obstructing the Rohingya repatriation move to gain their own interest and resorting to different techniques to discourage Rohingyas to go to Bhashanchar in Noakhali. Some are also instigating fresh Rohingya influx.”

During a recent visit to the area, the UNB correspondent found that some 400 makeshift houses were built at Londakhali adjacent to camp No-19 of Thaingkhali and solar lights were also installed.

Abul Azam, Subrata Alam, Sujon and some other local residents of Londakhali area told the correspondent that two NGOs — Ekota and Muslim Hands –are involved in the camp expansion work.

However, executive magistrate and in-charge of four Rohingya camps Abu Wahaab Rashed said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has taken a project to build a road to ease communications inside camps and for the implementation of a project to build several makeshift houses. “That’s why the new establishments are being built for their rehabilitation.”