Wed, Mar 01, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Jobless Rohingya sucked into narcotics trade in Bangladesh

CRIMINALS OR VICTIMS?Unable to work legally, many young Rohingya are selling drugs smuggled from labs in Myanmar to earn money, which is helping fuel resentment of the refugees

Reuters, LEDA, Bangladesh

“If only I had money I would never have sent my young son to work anywhere, and this would not have happened,” said Begum, who was out on bail after spending eight months in jail.

Bangladesh insists the Rohingya, though undocumented, are citizens of Myanmar and must ultimately return.

This month a reporter was taken to a tin shed by a canal in the Leda camp, where a 19-year-old youth wearing a blue T-shirt and sarong took orders for yaba from two customers seated on a mat. The youth, who fled to Bangladesh three years ago, said he buys 20 to 50 yaba pills from a local villager every day after tasting one or two himself for quality.

Bangladesh consumes an average of 2 million such pills a day, two officials at Bangladeshi Department of Narcotics Control in Dhaka estimated.

Each pill retails for around 300 taka (US$3.75). The same pill can be bought for around 60 taka in Cox’s Bazar. Rohingya “mules” can earn 10,000 taka for transporting 5,000 pills to Dhaka and other urban centres, the officials said.

Bangladesh has become a big market for traffickers who source the drug from factories in northeastern Myanmar, UN Office on Drugs and Crime regional representative Jeremy Douglas said.

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