Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | ePaper

Army getting ready to take charge of refugee camps

Team led by Army Chief visits Cox's Bazar

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Mismanagement of relief distribution creating chaos everyday while the refugee camps are reaching full capacity with thousands of Rohingya who continue to pour into Bangladesh fleeing violence in western Myanmar. This picture was taken from Ukhiya on Thur

Sagar Biswas :
The Bangladesh Army is taking massive preparations to take over the charge of relief distribution in Rohingya refugee camps in the country's southeastern Cox's Bazar district following allegation of huge mismanagement by the local civil administration.
A high-powered team of Bangladesh Army led by Chief of Army Staff General Abu Belal Muhammad Shafiul Huq went to Cox's Bazar's Ukhiya and Teknaf on Thursday to see the condition of the bordering areas.
General Officer Commanding of Ramu Cantonment, headquarter of the 10th Infantry Division of Bangladesh Army, Major General Maksudur Rahman was also included in the team, sources in the Defence Ministry said.
Director of Inter-Service Public Relations [ISPR] Lieutenant Colonel Rashidul Hassan told The New Nation on Thursday night: "The army is taking massive preparations to take charge of relief distribution works in Cox's Bazar district. But so far we know there is no specific decision yet about starting relief distribution work from Friday."
Referring to the issue, a senior official of Bangladesh Army requesting anonymity said, "It is not an easy matter to distribute relief materials among about 5 lakh refugees… Besides, it's a bordering area. So there must be a specific plan and programme. And obviously, there is a matter of check and balance."
Earlier in the day, ruling Awami League's General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, after distributing relief materials donated by Indian government at Kutupalong camp, said that army will start relief distribution from today [Friday].
The Minister gave the assurance of army participation following demands by different quarters in the backdrop of mismanagement in distributing relief among the Rohingya refugees.
"The army will take part in constructing sheds for Rohingyas and also distribute relief from Friday," he said. On the other hand, Minister for Relief and Disaster Management Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya on Thursday said the government has sought "cooperation from army" to help distribute relief materials among the Rohingyas.
Maya said around 4, 24,000 Rohingya refugees entered Bangladesh since August 25 and of them 5,575 have got registration.
Deputy Commissioner of Cox's Bazar Ali Hossain earlier on Wednesday claimed that everything would be under control within a few days. "Already we've taken drastic action to bring discipline in relief distribution. We're not allowing anyone to distribute relief haphazardly. I think it will take 2/3 days more to get a result," he said.
But in reality, the relief distribution by private organizations and individuals are going on in their own way. They do not bother to the district administration's directives. They even are not showing any interest to give their relief items to the district administration's relief fund.
Officials said five foreign countries, including Malaysia, Morocco, Indonesia, Iran and India, have sent relief items for the Rohingya refugees. Of the items, there are dry food, clothes, blankets, tents, medicines and others.
Captain Rakibul Hasan, 21- Air Defence Artillery Regiment of Bangladesh Army, told The New Nation on Wednesday, "We've so far received 138.925 metric tonnes of relief goods at the airport that came from four countries-Malaysia, Morocco, Indonesia, Iran. The relief materials have already been given to the Cox's Bazar district administration for distribution.
However, the relief goods from India have directly been received by the civil administration."
"The army is yet not started distribution of relief among the Rohingya refugees. We've not got any order from the superior for distribution of relief … Besides, I've no idea when troops would be deployed in the bordering areas," Captain Rakib said.

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