Africa Asia Middle East عربي Français Português free subscription IRIN Site Map RSS find PlusNews on facebook follow PlusNews on twitter
PlusNews
Global HIV/AIDS news and analysis
Advanced search
 Monday 15 March 2010
 
Home 
Africa 
Blog 
Weekly reports 
In-Depth reports 
Country profiles 
Fact files 
Events 
Most read 
 
Print report Bookmark and Share
BANGLADESH: Rohingya waiter Solim Ullah, "I live in fear every day"


Photo: David Swanson/IRIN
Standing on the beach in Cox's Bazar, Solim Ullah ponders his own future
COX’S BAZAR, 22 February 2010 (IRIN) - Born and raised in Bangladesh, 17-year-old Solim Ullah* is a documented Rohingya refugee. He has a job as a waiter at a restaurant in Cox’s Bazar, southern Bangladesh’s most popular beach resort, but following a recent crackdown fears arrest.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are an estimated 200,000 Rohingya - an ethnic and linguistic minority who fled neighbouring Myanmar en masse decades ago - in Bangladesh. Of these only 28,000 are documented, including 11,000 at the official Kutupalong refugee camp outside Cox’s Bazaar, and another 17,000 further south at Nayapara camp.

Solim told IRIN about his life - his hopes and fears:

“My family has lived in the Kutupalong refugee camp since 1991. For me it is nothing more than a prison.

“Although we receive assistance, there is no life for me there. We are barred from leaving the camp, barred from working, barred from doing anything that would make any person happy.

“It’s been four months since I left the camp and the authorities still don’t even know I am gone.

“There are a few other guys from the camp here working as well, but I don’t associate with them. I don’t dare, in case they get caught as well.

“I know what I’m doing is illegal. In fact it’s dangerous, but what choice do I have? No one here knows that I am Rohingya. If they did, I would be fired and be arrested. Worse still, I would probably be beaten.

“But that is the reality of being a Rohingya in Bangladesh, and I live in fear every day of being discovered.

“My family is from northern Rakhine State in Myanmar, where my father worked as a farmer. Life was OK, but we faced lots of problems there.

“Over time, things began to worsen and eventually our land was confiscated. At one point, the authorities demanded every Muslim household hand over one boy for work. And no, the idea of refusing wasn’t an option.

“Ultimately, we fled to Bangladesh where I was born and have lived ever since.

“But we are hardly welcome here either. In fact, many Bangladeshis look down upon us. They discriminate against us. They say we don’t belong here and should return to our country - a country I’ve never even been to. Some see us as less than human and take advantage of us. And if we do work, we are always paid less.

“I would like to do something with my life, but there are limited educational opportunities in the camp, and I want more.

“Isn’t that normal? To want to make the most of your life? To do what you want freely? Every day on the beach I see people doing just that. Doing what they want, being free. Surely I should have the same right. I am human after all.”

(* not his real name)

ds/ey/cb


Theme(s): (PLUSNEWS) Human Rights, (PLUSNEWS) Refugees/IDPs

[ENDS]

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Print report Bookmark and Share
Countries
FREE Subscriptions
Your e-mail address:


Submit your request
 More on Bangladesh
14/Mar/2010
Asia: IRIN-ASIA Weekly Round-up 271 for 7 - 13 March 2010
08/Mar/2010
ASIA: IRIN-ASIA Weekly Round-up 270 for 28 February - 6 March 2010
28/Feb/2010
ASIA: IRIN-ASIA Weekly Round-up 269 for 21 - 27 February 2010
25/Feb/2010
BANGLADESH: Islamic Relief to withdraw from makeshift refugee camp
25/Feb/2010
ASIA: Pesticides pose health risks
 More on Human Rights
10/Mar/2010
CAMBODIA: War crimes court juggles public demands
08/Mar/2010
AFGHANISTAN: Women’s rights trampled despite new law
26/Feb/2010
PHILIPPINES: Overcrowding fuels TB in prisons
24/Feb/2010
MYANMAR: Tentative steps towards Rohingya rehabilitation
18/Feb/2010
BANGLADESH: Rohingya humanitarian crisis looms
 Most Read 
INDONESIA: Farming for alternative livelihoods
AFGHANISTAN: Talking to the Taliban
SRI LANKA: Dengue spread slows in north
Asia: IRIN-ASIA Weekly Round-up 271 for 7 - 13 March 2010
Back | Home page

Services:  Africa | Asia | Middle East | Film & TV | Photo | Radio | Live news map | E-mail subscription
Feedback · IRIN Terms & Conditions · Really Simple Syndication News Feeds · About PlusNews · Jobs · Donors

Copyright © IRIN 2010
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.