Sunday, February 11, 2018

Bangladesh: Rohingya relief turning up in local black markets of Cox’s Bazar


Many Rohingya families are selling surplus goods that are provided twice a month by UNHRC, WFP, IOM, and other international and local NGOs.

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | Int'l Desk
Source/Credit: Dhaka Tribune
By Tarek Mahmud | February 11, 2018

Everything is being sold at half the price. A 50kg sack of rice which costs Tk3,000 is being sold for Tk1,000

Everyday household commodities like blankets, rice, food supplements, and even electronics are being sold at two “Loinchya” markets at Court Bazar and Ukhiya Bazar in Cox’s Bazar’s Ukhiya upazila.

The products being sold are originally relief provided to the Rohingya people as aid. The displaced Rohingya people, who have been given shelter in 12 camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf, are selling these to local hawkers as the Rohingyas are in need of money to meet their needs.
Exploitation by local hawkers

Over 200 hawkers purchase relief goods at minimal rates on a regular basis from the Rohingyas and selling them to local people by setting up “Loinchya” (a mispronounced word of local dialect that means Rohingya) markets at Court Bazar and Ukhiya Bazar.

During the day, vendors purchase relief from the camps and return via secret paths.

After sunset in Ukhiya, hundreds of vendors begin selling the relief goods in front of Middle Station Market and an adjacent plot owned by a local called Bodi Alam. This makeshift market is about five minutes’ walking distance west of Court Bazar.

Apart from these two markets, some vendors also sell their ill-gotten wares in Morichya Bazar, Ramu, Teknaf and Cox’s Bazar, said about 10 hawkers involved in the trade.
Frustrated Rohingyas

Many Rohingya families are selling surplus goods that are provided twice a month by UNHRC, WFP, IOM, and other international and local NGOs.

“We receive the aid from morning till noon and sell them at the local markets near our camps of Kutupalong, Thangkhali, and Balukhali in the afternoon,” said Kutupalong camp resident Abul Bashar, who used to sell such products.

When asked, Bashar, who came to Bangladesh in September last year from Maungdaw, told the Dhaka Tribune: “The aid providers keep giving the same things. We want other items but have no money, so we sell the surplus items and purchase vegetables, fish, or meat for our families.”

Abdullah from Kutupalong camp, said people who managed to get two cards (issued by WFP and IOM) are involved in selling relief items to get money for other things.

Each month, Abdullah gets two consignments of food aid that include 35kg of rice, 4.5kg of lentil, 2 litres of soybean oil and 1kg of sugar.

Razzak, another Rohingya currently living in Balukhali camp, said the quantity of relief is almost the same for all, so larger families have the need for more while smaller ones end up having more.
Damage and damage control

The authorities imposed further restrictions to prevent sale of surplus relief, but such trading persists at the hillside camps which are too big to maintain strict surveillance. This latest trend of hawkers buying the wares en masse has been in practice for the last couple of months.

Md Joynal, a local involved in the trade of relief goods, told the Dhaka Tribune that a 30kg sack of rice will cost about half the price being charged at conventional markets.

“A sack of 30kg rice is being sold at Tk900, while a 4.5kg sack of lentils is Tk140 only,” he added.

He said: “We avoid check posts by using three hilly paths from Kutupalong to Ukhiya Sadar. Sometimes we also use transports of goods heading for nearby markets in order to dodge check posts.”

The surplus aid items include edibles such as rice, lentils, soybean oil, powdered milk, and biscuits. Apart from these, goods like tarpaulin, utensils, buckets, and blankets were also seen being sold, he added.

Court Bazar Traders Association President Adil Chowdhury said they were suffering because of this trade.

“Everything is being sold at half the price. A 50kg sack of rice which costs Tk3,000 is being sold for Tk1,000,” he added.

Abul Khayer, a resident of Court Bazar area for the past 12 years, said locals thronged the markets because of the availability of high quality products not common in Ukhiya.

Ukhiya Upazila Nirbahi Officer Md Nikaruzzaman confirmed the matter and said some villagers do enter the camps and adjoining bazaars to buy various items at low prices.

“To prevent the smuggling, the upazila administration has increased surveillance and intensified patrols. We are also conducting regular drives to put an end to such activities,” he added.

The Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission said around 688,820 Rohingyas entered the country between August 28, 2017 and February 3, 2018, after being displaced by the oppression of the Myanmar Army.

Apart from this recent influx, several hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas have been living at the two upazilas of Cox’s Bazar for several years, said the RRRC. Local sources say that about 1.5 million Rohingya people from recent and previous insurgencies are living in Cox’s Bazar.


Read original post here: Bangladesh: Rohingya relief ending up in local black markets of Cox’s Bazar 


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