Rohingya crisis and Bangladesh government’s efforts to tackle it

Rohingya crisis and Bangladesh government’s efforts to tackle it

Bangladesh Live News | @banglalivenews | 18 Mar 2019, 02:17 am
Around 750,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh after fleeing from Rakhine state of Myanmar since August 2017 following an Army-led crack-down which the UN has termed as ‘ethnic cleansing’ and rights group called it ‘genocide’. The Rohingyas joined some 300, 000 who were already living in the refugee camps in Bangladesh.

August 25, 2018 marks one year of aggressive crackdown by Myanmar army on the Rohingya Muslms triggering an exodus en masse across the border into Bangladesh in what is now the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world. The hapless refugees suffered considerable trauma as a result of wide-spread campaign of murder, rape and arson unleashed by the Myanmar army. Rohingya refugee crisis is a contentious issue that has strained Bangladesh-Myanmar relations.


Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas had to take shelter in Bangladesh to save lives when they were tortured, killed, raped, their houses were torched and property vandalized by the Myanmar army. If Bangladesh had wanted it could have been able to force them back to Myanmar. Bangladesh could have closed the border. But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina decided to give them shelter instead of pushing them back to a certain death. She has given shelter to more than one million Rohingya refugees in a smaller- sized country of 160 million people. Those Rohingyas who had come earlier to take shelter  in Bangladesh were not driven out.


Sheikh Hasina’s humanitarian concern for the refugees has been appreciated by the international community. She has made it clear that as long as the Rohingyas do not have safe and secured living arrangements in Myanmar, Bangladesh will continue providing shelter to them. She said in a very strong voice that if she can arrange food for 160 million people, she will also be able to feed one million more. Despite facing innumerable problems in the country, she has not driven out a single Rohingya. The UK based ‘Channel  4’ dubbed Sheikh Hasina as ‘Mother of Humanity’ after she gave shelter to thousands of Rohingyas fleeing persecution and torture in Myanmar.


All these refugees are now sheltered in vast camps in Cox’s Bazar. There is no viable solution in sight as Myanmar continues to procrastinate when it comes to their repatriation. Their lack of access to education and income-generating activities is affecting them psychologically.


The government and people of Bangladesh, particularly the local population of Cox’s Bazar responded with grace and generosity providing safety, shelter and support to a traumatized population fleeing for their lives. The international community also has a role to play in ensuring that Bangladesh maintains and even accelerate its impressive development trajectory, even as it provides safety to one of the most vulnerable section of population on earth. The cost for providing shelter and food to the Rohingyas cannot and should not be borne by Bangladesh alone. The international community has to come forward and participate in it.


The World Bank has now approved a $ 165 million grant to help Bangladesh government provide basic services and build disaster and social resilience for the Rohingyas. This is the third of a series of financings of half a billion dollars announced by the World Bank in June 2018. Earlier, the World Bank committed a $ 75 million grant to provide for health and learning needs of the Rohingya. More than half of the Rohingya population are women and girls and before coming to Bangladesh they were exposed to gender-based violence and now are at risk.


Right from the beginning of the crisis the Sheikh Hasina government has set up a separate civilian authority to deal with the influx of Ronihgyas. Since September 2017 the Government has deployed thousands of soldiers from Bangladesh army to manage the Rohingya camps. The soldiers manage the camp headquarters where supplies are stored and guard the roads leading to the camps.


These camps are efficiently run and well-organized. In the camps the refugees get food, shelter, schools and, most importantly, peace. They are receiving goods and amenities which they never got before in their own country.


Repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar is the only solution to the prevailing crisis. But will the Rohingyas be able to return to their home? This continues to remain a million dollar question. Hundreds of homes belonging to them have been destroyed and their means of livelihood choked. Humanitarian organizations working on the ground in Bangladesh said that returning them to their home at this time would be dangerous and premature. The UNHCR has been clear that the current conditions in Myanmar are not “conducive to the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of the refugees”.


Image: WikimediaCommons