Wearing burial shrouds, locals have been protesting in Ukhia-Teknaf in Cox's Bazar to demand employment of locals impacted by the Rohingya refugee crisis.
The 'Rights Implementation Committee' has been conducting a peaceful protest with impacted locals in Thaingkhali area of Palangkhali union since Sunday morning. For the duration of the protest, protesters checked vehicles for NGO workers and did not allow them to enter the Rohingya camps.
A meeting at the office of the Upazila Nirbahi Officer was underway to resolve the issue.
Protesters said that several NGOs, including Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) had recruited Rohingyas in favour of locals. Locals have been reporting the matter to the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, various NGOs, and the local administration for the past four to five months. However, neither the NGOs nor the administration have kept their promise to secure their rights and jobs.
Local leaders and unemployed professionals who have been laid off from NGOs and various organizations are participating in the protest.
Gafur Uddin Chowdhury, chairman of Palangkhali Union Parishad and one of the coordinators of the locals' rights implementation committee, said, "The locals of Ukhia-Teknaf have suffered while trying to shelter about 1.1 million Rohingyas. The most impacted are the people of Palangkhali-Rajapalang union of Ukhia. The locals deserve to be hired by the NGOs working for the Rohingyas.
"But many NGOs are terminating locals and hiring foreigners and Rohingyas instead. As a result, the locals and their families are in dire financial straits. So, to protect their rights to earn a living and protest against irregular practices of the NGOs, the locals have organized a human chain and are participating in protest meetings, wearing burial shrouds."
Ukhia Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Nizam Uddin Ahmed said, "I was assigned here just recently, so I am not aware of any old issues. After receiving the news, I had a meeting with the relevant parties, and I hope we'll be able to arrive at a constructive solution."