The recent assassination of Mohib Ullah, chairman of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, has increased apprehension within the Rohingya refugee camps where tension was already high. The Rohingya have been living in fear due to a combination of unrestrained crimes, rivalry between different groups operating in the camps as well as lax security. Mohib Ullah’s murder has only worsened the situation, with many refugees believing the state of security in camps has gone from bad to worse in recent times.
According to a report published by this newspaper on Thursday, armed gangs belonging to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) have created a deep sense of fear in the camps. Law enforcement agencies have alleged that at least 10 Rohingya groups are engaged in about 12 types of crimes, including killing, abduction, rape, drug trafficking and robbery.
Since August 2017—when the largest Rohingya influx in history took place amidst a deadly crackdown by Myanmar’s military—more than 226 Rohingya individuals have been reportedly killed, and some 1,298 cases have been filed against 2,850 individuals, mostly in connection with possession of drugs and firearms.Amidst such a situation, we believe that having three armed battalions of police maintain law and order in the refugee camps, sheltering over a million Rohingya people, is not nearly enough. The number of battalions has to be increased for the police there to be effective, and in the aftermath of the Mohib Ullah killing, the number one priority should be to dispel fears and rumours in the camps with effective communication and de-escalation strategies, including through increased surveillance and presence of law enforcement personnel.
It is also vital that the authorities engage with the Rohingya representatives and members of the international community. Through closer engagement and collaboration, they should try and calm the nerves of refugees and give them the assurance that security will be beefed up and that they should have nothing to fear.