BD nudges Myanmar to take ‘visible’ steps to fix Rohingya crisis
Myanmar "must demonstrate strong political will and visible actions" to address discrimination against Rohingyas, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam has said.
"We would also request the international partners to intensify their campaign for permanent solution to the Rohingya problem," Alam said on Tuesday while launching a report of Oxfam Bangladesh on Rohingya women and girls, a year after the mass exodus.
The state minister said the international humanitarian actors need "to continue their persuasion with Myanmar for access to the Rakhine State so that these needs of Rohingya women and girls could be adequately addressed once they return to their homes."
Oxfam Bangladesh Country Director Dipankar Datta was also present at the launch of the report, 'One Year on: Time to Put Women and Girls at the Heart of the Rohingya Response".
Rohingya women living in Bangladesh are developing health problems, missing out on aid and are at greater risk of abuse due to unsafe and unsuitable facilities in many parts of the refugee camps, according to the report.
More than a third women they interviewed said they did not feel safe or comfortable going to collect water or using toilets and shower cubicles - many of which lack a roof and a lockable door.
Half of women and three quarters of adolescent girls said they did not have what they needed to manage their periods, including a female-only place to wash sanitary clothes without embarrassment.
Alam said the government recognises "the special needs of women and children and has provided customised humanitarian support for them."
"As many as 34,338 pregnant women have been provided with necessary health services. As of now, 3,554 children have been born within those facilities. And 8,170 tube wells, 50,508 latrines and 11,190 bathrooms have been established," he said.
"Separate bath facilities with sheds have been built for Rohingya Women and girls."
The Rohingya women and girls have never had access to health services, education or any other income generating activities, according to Alam.
"Due to the intergenerational experience of persecution and discrimination they remain extremely vulnerable."
"On top of that, a large number of women and girls have faced sexual violence in Myanmar causing severe trauma and psychological breakdown."
It has already been widely documented internationally that Myanmar has used rape as a weapon for creating terror among the Rohingyas and thus fuelling their mass exodus.
The International Fact Finding Mission's report has stated that the scale, brutality and systematic nature of these violations indicate that rape and sexual violence are part of a deliberate strategy to intimidate, terrorise or punish a civilian population, and are used as a tactic of war. -bdnews24.com
The state minister said security is an "important" component of the government's response to the Rohingya crisis.
More than 1,200 law enforcement officials have been additionally deployed to 11 checkpoints.
To ensure security during night time, the government has established a 13km power line and 50 street lights, 10 flood lights and 1,040 solar lights have been set up to lit up the streets.
Additionally, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have been requested to provide additional support to ensure electricity inside the camps, he said.
"Bangladesh believes the problems of the Rohingya women and girls need resolved permanently and sustainably. For that, we have been engaged diplomatically both with Myanmar and with the international community," Alam said.
"Our past experiences suggest that Myanmar does not fulfil its obligations unless pressured by the international community."
Alam welcomed Oxfam's efforts to bring gender sensitivity in the humanitarian response, particularly the evidence-based conclusion that there should be specific 15 percent amount of funding set aside for addressing women's specific needs.
"We also support that women need to be integrated in every stage of the humanitarian response, particularly the single mothers having lost their husbands and facing additional burden of having to provide for their family on their own," he said.
"The report would provide a guideline for the international donors in prioritising their contribution and the humanitarian actors in planning and implementation."
Additional support for family planning, women-specific health and nutrition needs and separate sanitation facilities would help avoid health hazards in the camps, Alam said.