About 43 per cent Rohingyas living in overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar fleeing persecution in Myanmar sell humanitarian aid supplies in exchange for cash to meet their daily needs, shows a study.
Ground Truth Solutions survey on needs and services for Rohingays released on Wednesday said that the ethnic minority people spent the money on food such as fish, meat, vegetables, chili, salt, as well as firewood or cooking fuel.
Several camps have seen the development of markets, in which traders, mostly Rohingyas, sell relief supplies to local people.
Bangladeshi officials and aid workers said that a number of Rohingyas somehow collected double cards to get extra reliefs and they used to sell these items.
Rohingyas in search of dietary diversity buy daily essentials that are not covered by the relief items by selling their relief materials even keeping them half-fed.
Local people buy the relief supplies from Rohingyas usually to sell to other Bangladeshis to make cash.
Rohingyas lack income generating opportunities, as work in the settlements is scarce and work outside the camps is prohibited. The sale of aid supplies is one of their most popular income generation opportunities, the study said.
Refugee relief and repatriation commissioner in Cox’s Bazar Mohammad Abul Kalam was, however, sceptical about the findings.
‘Yes, some Rohingyas are selling their relief materials but figure of 43 per cent so is too high,’ he said, ‘there might be some problem with sample.’
Vienna-based Ground Truth Solutions, assisted by United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, surveyed 1,003 forcibly displaced Rohingyas in 23 sites of Ukhia and Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar in July.
The survey said that 43 per cent of the respondents reported selling the aid items for cash to meet their daily needs.
This is more common among women – 51 per cent of women have sold aid items, compared to 36 per cent of men. When women are the sole head of their household, this rises to 71 per cent, it added.
According to the WFP Refugee influx Emergency Vulnerability Assessment, food is the main form of expenditure among refugees, who spend two-thirds of their monthly budget on food, followed by firewood.
‘Rohingyas are selling relief materials because of diet diversity. How long a human being can live on lentil and rice,’ said Abul Kalam.
He said that some Rohingyas somehow collected double cards and they were selling their relief supplies.
‘Problems of double cards would be solved when we would finish joint verification of the Rohingyas,’ he said.
Aid workers and local people said that Rohingyas were often found standing beside the roads selling relief goods in Ukhia, Kutupalong, Balukhali and Court Bazar areas.
The goods are mostly bought by Bangladeshi traders, who set up shops behind the main market of Court Bazar.
Since August 25, 2017 terrified, starving, exhausted Rohingyas have continued arriving in Bangladesh trekking through hills and crossing rough sea and the River Naf on boat.
About 6,000 acres of national forests were cleared. Areas previously inhabited by wild elephants became barren. The lush, green, hilly landscape rapidly transformed into town of tents as far as the eye can see.
More than 720,000 Rohingyas, fleeing violence and systemic discrimination in Rakhine State, have found shelter and safety in Cox’s Bazar since August 25, 2017.
They joined an estimated four lakh Rohingyas from previous waves of influxes fuelled by intimidation of Myanmar government and army since 1978.
The new influx began after Myanmar security forces responded to Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army’s reported attacks on August 25 by launching violence that the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing.
The number of Rohingyas at Teknaf and Ukhia upazilas became almost three fold the number of Bangladeshis there, 4.7 lakh.
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