10-12 street children were hanging out on the footpath next to the tourist police box in Sugandha Point area of Cox’s Bazar city. At one stage of the story with these children, who is Rohingya among them? Seven children raised their hands in simple confession.
One of them, 12-year-old Karim Ullah (pseudonym), said that two years ago, he escaped from his family in Ukhia Rohingya camp and came to Cox’s Bazar city after evading the check post. The Rohingya escaped with the help of a friend and joined the underprivileged children of the city. Although the first three-four days were bad, the life of collecting plastic bottles and selling them at junk shops gradually became normal. Karim Ullah spends his days and nights on the streets. During the day, he collects scraps and sells them to earn money for food and sleeps on the pavement with other children in the dead of night. Three months after coming from the camp, Karim Ullah got a job as a glassboy in a tea shop in the city’s car field area. But after about 20 days, he was kicked out from there on the charge of playing while working. Later, he stayed again on that old road with street children friends. Life is going on between storm and rain without eating. Constantly being neglected and beaten. However, the family contacted him in the meantime. The family was initially worried, but is now normal. He told the family that he works in a tea shop. But actually he turned into a street child.
Another Rohingya child named Mohammad Abdullah (pseudonym) was spoken to. Most of his left wrist was burnt and two fingers were bent. When asked how this happened, he said that six months ago, he thought that this accident happened due to the pulling of an electric wire. He escaped from Balukhali Rohingya camp a year and a half ago. In response to the question of how to circumvent the checkpoints, it says that while it was a problem before, it doesn’t matter now. The check post can be evaded only if you can dress, talk and move like the locals. In addition, if caught, they are sent to the camp. You can try again later.
Another Rohingya child named Abdul Alim said that an old Rohingya relative from Cox’s Bazar came to the city to work in Shutki village 9 months ago. They behave well in the beginning but later throw them out of the house. He gives one meal and does not give another meal. So connected with underprivileged children for six months. Where there are Rohingya children he knows.
Abdul Alim also said that a drunken robber stole 100 taka from him a month ago. At that time, the robber’s stab wound seriously injured his hand and back. Since then, he can’t pick up much debris. Although collecting money for food from tourists. When asked why they are staying with street children with such difficulty, they say that there is no opportunity to collect such debris in the Rohingya camp. Even though it’s hard, it’s good here.
Not only these three street children. These Rohingya street children can also be seen in Ukhia Sadar Daroga market. They collect bottles, iron, plastic etc. from local houses and different areas and shops and sell them in scrap shops. At night he sleeps on the balcony of the shop. Apart from this, they escaped to the city of Cox’s Bazar. According to the information given by ‘New Life’ organization working for the welfare of underprivileged children in Cox’s Bazar city, about one third of the street children in the city are Rohingya children. They are constantly facing risks. In addition to food insecurity, getting sick. Falling into an accident.
Suman Sharma, General Secretary of New Life Organization, said that there are more than 250 underprivileged children in Cox’s Bazar city. There are about one hundred Rohingya children among them. As these children’s night stay is uncertain, food is also uncertain. They are located in Kalatali, Sugandha Point, Car Fish, Samity Para, Peshkar Para and Kavita Chatwar areas of the city. They spend their nights on footpaths, market balconies and junk shops. Bhangari collects food money by collecting scraps and begging. is constantly at risk. Bhangari traders are also cheating by giving less weight and not paying money. Constantly suffering from illness, accidents and attacks.
In this context, Jasmine Akhtar, sub-project director of Cox’s Bazar Sheikh Russell Child Training and Rehabilitation Center, said that there is no rule to keep Rohingya children in the rehabilitation center. Although many organizations send street children for shelter. Even if it feels bad to return the Rohingya children, nothing is done. A permanent solution for the safety of these young children is imperative.
It is to be noted that on February 5, 2021, a street child named Lalu (10) was electrocuted while picking up a mobile phone dropped by a tourist in the Sugandha Point drain. This child was a Rohingya child.
Cox’s Bazar Additional Deputy Commissioner Vibhishan Kanti Das (General) said that they do not have a survey of Rohingya children leaving the camp. However, it is not desirable for young children to leave the camp. In this case, there should be an overall effort, so that the children are safe.
Police Superintendent of Cox’s Bazar Tourist Police Zillur Rahman said that the security of the Rohingya camp should be strengthened. Children who are already arriving need to be found and returned safely to the camp. Not only Rohingya children, but all children must work collectively to ensure their safety.
Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mohammad Mizanur Rahman said that there is no alternative to repatriation to solve the overall problem of Rohingyas. The Bangladesh government is working to ensure that the repatriation of Rohingyas is dignified and sustainable.