A prolonged refugee crisis in Bangladesh with no solution in sight

Bangladesh has suffered greatly as a result of the massive inflow of Rohingya after suffering torture and atrocities committed by the Myanmar junta

Dr Arpita Hazarika Jul 07, 2022
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Bangladesh Rohingya (Photo: Twitter)

Approximately one million Rohingya refugees live in Bangladesh, the majority of whom crossed the border after a harsh military campaign in Myanmar's Rakhine State in August 2017. Bangladesh has offered safe haven to this sizable population while attempting to handle the displacement crisis as a short-term issue, stressing the significance of repatriation. This strategy hasn't worked. The process of repatriation has slowed, criminality and violence in and around the Rohingya camps in southern Bangladesh looks to be on the rise. 

After almost a million Rohingyas fled Myanmar for Bangladesh, its government moved swiftly to provide for them in the Cox's Bazar and Teknaf areas. Dhaka then moved to decongest these camps by moving some of the Rohingyas to other regions in order to ease the pressure on the locals in terms of their means of subsistence, environmental hazard and security threat. 

In order to provide some of these Rohingyas who volunteered to relocate to Bhashan Char with a dignified and sustainable temporary domicile, the Bangladesh Navy constructed state-of-the-art amenities and lodgings there. 

World attention is far away from the Rohingya crisis amid the Ukraine crisis, Covid-19 threat and other issues including those revolving around QUAD. 

UN role  

Since its creation, the UN has actively contributed to the establishment of peace in the world. The UN is now being looked up to by the people of Bangladesh as well as the Rohingya community for a sense of relief and a glimmer of hope.  

Bangladesh has suffered greatly as a result of the massive inflow of people after suffering torture and atrocities committed by the Myanmar Junta. More action must be taken by the international community and the UN to address this disaster if more than a million innocent Rohingyas are to realize their dreams of living in dignity and peace. Can the international community afford to see such injustice in the 21st century? 

Since the late 1970s, Myanmar's discriminatory policies have caused hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingyas to escape their homes in the largely Buddhist nation. The majority have entered Bangladesh via land while others have traveled by water to Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. 

Rohingya suffering 

The flight of Rohingya began in 2017 as a result of increasing violence, which included rape, murder and arson. Myanmar's security forces were accused of carrying out ethnic cleansing. The international community is increasing pressure on Myanmar's authorities to stop the bloodshed. 

Since the country's declaration of independence in 1948, successive administrations of Burma, renamed Myanmar in 1989, have denied the Rohingya people's historical assertions and refused to recognize the minority as one of the nation's 135 recognized ethnic groups. Even though many of the Rohingya can trace their ancestry back to centuries in Myanmar, they are regarded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. 

The term "Rohingya," a self-identifying phrase that first appeared in the 1950s and which scholars argue gives the population a collective political identity, is not recognized by either the central government or Rakhine, the dominant ethnic ethnic Buddhist group in Rakhine. The most widely recognized idea, despite disagreements regarding the name's etymology, is that Rohang comes from the word "Arakan" in the Rohingya dialect, where ga or gya denotes "from". 

International pressure 

Chris Lewa, the director of the Arakan Project, a Thailand-based advocacy organization, claims that by claiming to be Rohingya, the ethnic Muslim community claims its connections to territory that was originally governed by the Arakan Kingdom. 

Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the UN, has called the violence "ethnic cleansing" and the humanitarian situation "catastrophic". A genocide has allegedly occurred, according to rights organizations and other UN officials. Additional pressure on Myanmar's government has been rejected by other Security Council members like Russia and China. 

In Rakhine State, sectarian conflict is nothing new. Tens of thousands of Rohingya were forced to flee their homes as a result of security measures over the past five years, particularly in 2012 and 2016. 

As the migration of Rohingya into Bangladesh has increased, countries like the United States, Canada, Norway and South Korea have increased their humanitarian aid.  

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Arakan Project and Fortify Rights are just a few of the advocacy organizations that continue to call for international pressure on Myanmar to repatriate Rohingyas from Bangladesh. 

(The author is a Gauhati University, India, based researcher. Views are personal. She can be contacted at drhazarikaarpita81@gmail.com) 

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