BTRC to adopt ‘special strategy’ on SIMs for Rohingyas

Md A Halim
Published : 04:00, Sep 18, 2019 | Updated : 04:00, Sep 18, 2019

Rohingya refugees sit as they wait to receive humanitarian aid at Balu Khali refugee camp, near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh Nov 6, 2017. REUTERS/File PhotoThe government has taken a strict stance to stop mobile phone usage among Rohingyas; at specific times, 3G and 4G networks are shut down at Rohingya camps and orders have been given to stop giving illegal mobile connections.
The government is taking a strategic step in giving SIM cards in the Rohingya camp area but this will depend on the report given by a visiting Bangladesh Telecommunication and Regulatory Commission (BTRC) team.
It’s known that all Rohingyas have NIDs, collected through various ways.
With an NID, a person can buy a maximum of 15 SIM cards so stopping mobile usage is not possible.
BTRC chairman Md. Zahurul Huq says: “We will think as to how SIM cards will be given to the Rohingyas; we will take decision based on a report, following an inspection of the camp.”
Rohingya refugees gather at a market inside a refugee camp in Cox`s Bazar, Bangladesh, March 7, 2019. REUTERSThere are more than 1.1 million people living in the camps and it’s easy to speculate that a large number of them are using mobile phones, he said and added: “The illegal SIMs will be shut down.”
Many Rohingyas with NID cards are buying SIM cards with Tk 100 and selling them for Tk 1,500, he said.
From Sept 11, 3G and 4G networks are shut down at Rohingya camp areas from 5pm till 6am. During this time, only 2G can be used to make voice calls.
BTRC has already ordered the stopping of illegal SIMs and a high level team is visiting the camps.
The installation of a jammer at the camps may also be taken into consideration.