Thursday, 17 July 2008

Burmese refugee dies of starvation in Lada camp

Kaladan Press

Teknaf, Bangladesh: A Burmese refugee belonging to the unofficial Lada camp died of starvation yesterday (15th). Due to incessant heavy rain over two weeks, refugees have been facing severe food shortage because they have been unable to go out to work to support their families.

The dead refugee was identified as Abdu Salam (45), son of Abdul Zabber, Block C, and Room No.193 of Lada refugee camp. He left behind his wife and two children. He was unable to go out of the camp because of the rains and died of starvation, according to the victim's wife.

The situation in the Lada camp is going from bad to worse. The refugees were transferred to Lada camp from Dum Dum Meah camp recently. Though their living conditions have improved and the sheds are better compared to the Dum Dum Meah camp but they are now facing acute food crisis and other problems relating to local villagers, said a Majee (shed Leader) in the camp.

Some local people set up shops near the refugee camp to sell goods to the refugees, but they did not buy because of the high price compared to other shops which are further from the camp.

When some refugees returned to their camp after buying goods such as ---rice, onion, garlic, salt, cigarettes, edible oil, potatoes and other things from far away shops, local shopkeepers looted the goods from the refugees out of anger because they had not bought from their shops.

The refugees were not provided any ration from NGOs and other organizations. But they got some ration from the Islamic Relief Organization (IRO) when they were transferred to Lada camp. Since then they have received no ration from any quarter. The refugees thus have been trying to eke out a living by working outside the camp.

But because of incessant heavy rains since the first week of this month and the increase in bus fares, the refugees are unable to go out to work. As such they are facing acute scarcity of rations. Now, they have to pay Taka 20 to go to Teknaf from their camp when it was only Taka 10 before, where they earn only Taka 50 per day as a daily laborer, said Olison Majee in the camp.

Currently the Lada camp hosts 1,972 families, and the camp will be extended for 2,000 families in the future. Refugees will be provided ration in the days to come, according to Union Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Md. Altaf Hossain Chowdhury of Teknaf.

Besides, 165 families, who did not get sheds earlier, were provided sheds by the authorities.

The refugees who met Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) officials were told that in the future, refugees must have documents from the concerned authorities, if they want to go out of the camp. Refugees are now afraid of being arrested by the BDR if they go out without a document.

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