The government has finally lifted the ban on 3G and 4G internet connectivity in the Rohingya camps.
The 3G and 4G mobile network was restored in the refugee camps on Friday morning, a local source confirmed.
“At about 9 am in the morning, 3G and 4G mobile network was restored and we are now able to use the internet," Md Matin, an official of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPH), told Dhaka Tribune.
This move comes nearly a year after the government slapped a ban on the mobile internet connectivity in the camps, citing security reasons.
Following a large gathering of the Rohingyas to mark the second anniversary of the latest exodus from Myanmar on August 25, 2019, the government banned 3G and 4G mobile data in the camps in September.
But on the third anniversary this year, the government said it had decided to lift the ban, following repeated requests from UN agencies, local, national and international NGOs.
“The internet is not a suitable medium for targeted authentic, I repeat, authentic instant community messaging. We have many examples of inappropriate use of social media. Baseless rumours and misinformation can create panic and destabilise the camps,” Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said in a statement at a webinar, titled “Bangladesh’s Approach Towards Hosting Rohingya,” organized by the Centre of Peace Studies on Monday.
“However, responding to requests for greater internet connectivity, we have taken a decision on a lifting of restrictions on 3G/4G mobile network, which will be effective soon,” he added.
In September last year, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the ban had been imposed for the safety and security of the residents of the camps as well as the host communities.
“Those restrictions were also intended to stop violence and yaba smuggling. I think it is still necessary to keep the restrictions in place,” he said.
The service-providing organizations have long been saying that limited mobile and internet connectivity in the Rohingya settlements is a major challenge and that communication is essential to ensure preparedness and to save lives should the Covid-19 pandemic reach the camps, along with an approaching cyclone and monsoon season.
Many also argued that allowing internet use in the camps would facilitate Covid-19 response via sharing proper information and countering rumours.