Poor host communities fume as Rohingyas start grabbing local labour market

An anger is growing among poor hosts as the Rohingyas, living in Bangladesh’s tourism hub of Cox’s Bazar, are increasingly joining the local labour market, leaving many locals out of their jobs and small businesses.

The host communities claimed that Rohingyas can easily come out from their camps and get engaged in work at the local labour market with their increased presence.

“You need to pay a local labourer Tk 600 a day and you can do the same job engaging a Rohingya with only Tk 200-300. Naturally, the Rohingyas get a preference when someone hires a day-labourer,” one of the locals told UNB, wishing not to be named.

Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar district and Bhasan Char.

The UN is likely to begin its operational activities in Bhasan Char in September if the current negotiation ends with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in August.

Palangkhali UP chairman in Ukhiya upazila M Gafur Uddin Chowdhury said locals are no longer getting desired jobs as Rohingyas are preferred for lower wages. “Even, no one is stopping it… even the Rohingyas are getting involved in small businesses.”

Hamidul Haque Chowdhury who works to protect the interests of locals said the Rohingyas are even working in various NGOs.

Read: Floods, landslides hit Rohingya camps hard: UNHCR

“They also work in various shops and doing household works. I myself saw them doing all this,” he told UNB, adding that Rohingya workers and employees are outnumbering the locals.

Mohammad Shamsu Douza, Additional Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, said they have no such information that the Rohingyas are working in various NGOs.

Poor host communities fume as Rohingyas start grabbing local labour market

“Probably, the Rohingyas are working as volunteers. They might work as labourers outside the camps but we’ve no such information. You (journalists) have better sources to know about that,” he told UNB.

Douza said they will take proper steps if they find authentic information that the Rohingyas are working for NGOs.

When approached, the spokesperson at the UN refugee agency – UNHCR- said: “Livelihoods and skills training opportunities provide refugees with a sense of purpose and autonomy while they are in exile, while preparing for return to and reintegration in Myanmar when conditions allow them to return home.

As Rohingya refugees are not allowed to work in Bangladesh, humanitarian actors working in Cox’s Bazar engage volunteers from the refugee community for specific activities in the camps and provide them with a modest stipend for doing so,” he said.

The UNHCR spokesperson in Dhaka also said Rohingya refugee volunteers continue to play a crucial role in humanitarian response in the camps, including community-based protection, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and ensuring referrals to health, protection, and other critical services.

He said Rohingyas are also the first responders for weather-related and other emergencies and volunteers have been particularly important in response to Covid-19 when humanitarian staff had to reduce presence in the camps in line with government directives.

Poor host communities fume as Rohingyas start grabbing local labour market

“Over 1,400 refugee community health work volunteers (CHWs) have received training on Covid-19 and work in the camps to ensure key messages are shared regularly with the population,” said the spokesperson adding that the refugee volunteers comply with instructions from the government authorities in the camps.

Locals said the Rohingyas have small business both inside and outside the camps.

Though there are no such official figures, locals claimed that some 8000 Rohingyas work for various NGOs with monthly salaries while 20,000 more Rohingyas remain engaged in shops, household works and crops fiends.

Wishing to remain unnamed, a Rohingya youth said he works in a local NGO and some 150-200 Rohingyas from his camp work for some other NGOs.

He said Rohingyas, living in Ukhiya and Teknaf camps, are working in various NGOs.

Talking to UNB, another Rohingya said, “I’ve been working for the past three years in a non-government organization. In my team, there’re six Rohingyas. There’re many such teams in each camp.”

Locals said the Rohingyas are now working as night guards, health workers, construction workers, housemaids and in non-technical posts. The Rohingyas are reportedly pulling rickshaws and vans in different parts of the district.

Source: United News of Bangladesh