Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh: A deeply rooted crisis
Rohingya, an ethnic group of people with majority being Muslims, living for centuries in Rakhine state, have been experiencing barbarous atrocities, starting from 2017 which most international organizations recognize as ethnic cleansing against them.
Myanmar government doesn’t recognize them as their citizen, doesn’t even use the word “Rohingya”. Instead, they call them Bangalees, foreigners and terrorists.
The recent crisis first appeared in 2012, when some Rohingya men were accused of rape and murder of a Buddhist woman which eventually was retaliated by killing and burning Rohingya homes by Buddhist Nationalists.
From then on, there was always an envious and oppressing situation between Rohingya and Buddhist people in Rakhine of Myanmar. Rohingya people currently are at the center of humanitarian catastrophe. It’s been three decades that people from Rakhine are taking shelter in Bangladesh.
In the 2nd half of 2017, the Burmese army conducted brutal killings, raping females, burning homes and people alive which consequently had them left with no other options except to leave their homeland and search for shelter in neighboring country, Bangladesh.
More than 7,00,000 Rohingya people have fled to Bangladesh during this recent crisis with 4,00,000 more already living in Bangladesh prior to the crisis in 2017. Some more entering from India in recent times has added a new dimension to the existing problem.
Many international organizations have responded to the crisis quickly and rebuked Myanmar government for their atrocities. International Aids have been regular from different organizations and countries to Rohingya refugee.
Some countries have imposed sanctions and travel ban on some top military officers responsible for the atrocities carried out by units under their command. Many other such initiatives have been taken by different bodies. But, are these really enough to resolve such a big and deeply rooted crisis?
No major punitive measures are seen to be taken by International Organizations and authorities. Thus, Myanmar remained sort of silent and continued refusing to take the Rohingyas back. UN is the most responsible organization to address Rohingya crisis and to charge Myanmar for their genocide over a minor ethnic group.
But, response from UN Security Council, so far has been limited due to opposition from China and Russia. China and India hold their own business and political interest to support Myanmar in this regard which makes it more difficult for Bangladesh to resolve the crisis.
Looking at the timeline of the crisis and the very deafly response from Myanmar government, it can easily be said that they have no intention to solve the crisis rather they are more likely to push as many Rohingyas as possible to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has absorbed a huge number of refugees within months at the beginning of the crisis for which the country has been praised around the world, but how long to continue so? Why the other regional players are so silent regarding the matter?
It is Bangladesh which is going to be affected most by this Rohingya crisis in near future if no long term corrective measures are appreciated by the country itself and the regional players along with other international organizations.
Recently though, Bangladesh is doing great in developing its economy, and the economic indicators are looking handsome, the country’s internal economic structure is not that strong to bear the responsibility of this huge human basket as the country is already plagued with its own population problem.
A very concerning issue is birth rate among Rohingya people which is much higher than that among Bangladeshis. According to experts, in 2018 alone, they are to give birth to 50,000 babies. Having 10 camps currently in service, the number is increasing regularly to meet the continuously increasing demand for shelter.
It may not seem to be alarming now but its immense long term impact can’t be avoided. Sociologists say that this may violate the communal harmony and endanger the environmental sustainability.
Many recent reports say that Rohingya people are getting engaged in crimes like stealing, drug peddling, robbery and even murder while possibilities of more crimes can’t be ruled out as the time goes on.
Moreover, the impact of 1 million refugees on environment is difficult to overstate. The U.N recently released an environmental assessment where they identified 28 risk factors that are threatening our human security and biodiversity. The country is already highly susceptible to natural disasters especially in those regions.
Being in such a ground, policies, to be the appropriate ones for Bangladesh in dealing this crisis, are not easy ones to make! Dhaka should increase talk with Beijing and Delhi as they can play a big role in solving this ongoing crisis, though they showered little willingness and support in this regard during the crisis period.
International community must not stop only by providing relief funds and condemning Myanmar through some mere statements as these come of little help to resolve such deeply rooted crisis.
It needs more diplomatic talks with regional players and long term policy making from our side. International Organizations must come forward with effective measures to repatriate the Rohingya people to their homeland. Most importantly, Myanmar, at anyhow, must be forced to address this as their own crisis and agreed to take back their very own people.
The way, Bangladesh government has dealt with the issue initially, deserves some credit. But now is the time to think over our position and ability and take some effective moves.
Bangladesh is too small to bear the burden of such gigantic size of refugees. We must not overlook the long term impacts this may have on our national interests while in serving humanitarian aspect of this crisis. This is an issue to be talked more now and a crisis to be resolved as soon as possible for the betterment of Rohingya people as well as for Bangladesh.
The writer is a teacher of University of Chittagong