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Survey: Most Rohingyas willing to return home with conditions met

  • Published at 09:46 pm April 30th, 2019
web-makeshift rohingya camp in cox’s Bazar
This photo taken recently shows a makeshift rohingya camp in cox’s Bazar Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

None of the Rohingyas want to be relocated to Bhasan Char

A total of 67% of the Rohingya refugee community currently living in Bangladesh are willing to return to their homes in Myanmar if the authorities there meet certain conditions, a Brac survey has found.

Brac found that none of the Rohingya population wants to be relocated to Bhashan Char either, from the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar where they are currently sheltered.

The survey also found that most Rohingya men are willing to repatriate if their conditions are met, but not the women. The women, who have survived brutal sexual violence, want to stay back in Cox’s Bazar, considering the traumatic experience they went through in Myanmar.

Brac’s Policy Analyst, Tariqul Islam, presented “Brac’s Perception Survey on Rohingya Crisis” at the "Reflection on Rohingya Crisis: Since and Beyond," event at the Six Seasons Hotel in Dhaka's Gulshan on Tuesday.

The study also said the heavy Rohingya presence was intensely affecting the host community and local environment.

The researchers said the negative environmental impacts must be seriously and immediately addressed, and the authorities concerned need to create more awareness about Bhashan Char for the future relocation of the Rohingyas.

The conditions set by the Rohingyas for their safe and dignified return to Myanmar include issuance of a national identity card that legitimizes their equal rights as citizens of Myanmar, compensation for the destruction of their property and possessions, release of captured Rohingyas, and long-term supervision of the repatriation and integration process by international NGOs and agencies.

Addressing the event, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner,  Md Abul Kalam, said: “In my visits to the Rohingya camps, I found that most of the women and girls are seriously against the idea of returning to Myanmar. They don’t want to go back because of the extreme torture they endured before fleeing to Bangladesh.”

He said the authorities were working on ensuring a proper education for these women as well. “Also, 20,000 Rohingyas are working there [camps] as volunteers.”

He also admitted the host community in Cox’s Bazar was facing agricultural problems and other sufferings because of the presence of over 1.1 million Rohingya people.

“We don’t have many options in Cox’s Bazar, but Bhashan Char can offer good opportunities with better living conditions because there is no risk of landslides,” Kalam added.

Dignified repatriation a must

Speaking at Tuesday’s event, National Human Rights Commission Chairman, Kazi Reazul Hoque, said the Rohingyas must be sent back to Myanmar ensuring their dignity, in order to properly resolve the current crisis.

He said: "We all are talking about the fact that the Rohingya crisis must be resolved, but we do not know how to do so. After visiting the Rohingya camps, I came to know that the Rohingyas want their human rights to be ensured in Myanmar first.

"They want dignity. The only solution to this issue is to send them back to Myanmar, keeping their dignity intact."

Regarding the persecution Rohingyas faced in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, Reazul added: "It is a clear case of genocide. It was not just ethnic cleansing. This is the right time to create pressure on the international community so that they mount pressure on Myanmar to cooperate and resolve the crisis."

At the event, discussing the problems created by this crisis and evaluating the solutions at hand, the speakers also talked about the Rohingya situation in general.

In a different study conducted by Brac, other problems created by the crisis, including a negative effect on the local economy, social breakdown of the locality, the price hike of essentials, labour market conflicts, lack of job opportunities for locals, and the loss of livelihood resources, were also discussed.

The studies also said the host population is now, also not willing to socially interact with the Rohingyas.

At the program, journalists also shared their experiences and discussed the realities and priorities of the crisis.

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