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Rohingya exodus: Bangladesh continues to suffer with no end to crisis in sight

  • Published at 12:00 am August 25th, 2021
Rohingya refugee
Over one million Rohingyas live in Bangladesh now since fleeing a military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state in 2017 Syed Zakir Hossain

Myanmar will not take its people back and the international community seems unwilling to force Naypyitaw  

Bangladesh continues to suffer from the ongoing Rohingya crisis without being a party to it, as Myanmar is refusing to take its own people back with a complete disregard for the bilateral agreements signed by Dhaka and Naypyitaw.

As of now, there appears to be no end in sight to the crisis created by Myanmar.

The international community seems unwilling to do more to compel Myanmar to take back its own people from Rakhine, whom Bangladesh sheltered to save their lives.  

On August 25, 2017, the Myanmar military, aided by local Buddhist mobs and goons from other ethnic groups, began a genocidal crackdown on Rohingyas in Rakhine state forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

The then United Nations high commissioner for human rights described the Myanmar military campaign as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. Later, many individuals and reports confirmed that the Myanmar military committed crimes against humanity, including genocide.

The barbaric actions of Myanmar continued for several months and forced about 740,000 Rohingyas, which is more than half of the population of the community, to cross the border into Cox’s Bazar to save their lives.

At least 6,700 Rohingya, including at least 730 children under the age of five, were killed in the month after the crackdown began, according to medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Amnesty International said the Myanmar military had also raped and abused Rohingya women and girls.

A report published by UN investigators in August 2018 accused Myanmar's military of carrying out mass killings and rapes with genocidal intent. 

Also Read - 4th anniversary of Rohingya exodus: No outdoor assembly Wednesday

With the arrivals of the about 740,000 Rohingyas, Bangladesh was faced with one of the gravest crises in its history. Despite its limited resources, Bangladesh gave the displaced people shelter and security. The arrivals after August 25, 2017 are in addition to 80,000 Rohingyas who took shelter in 2016 and nearly 300,000 who have been living in Bangladesh for decades.

During the last four years, despite making repeated promises take the Rohingyas back, Myanmar did not create a favourable condition for the return of the displaced people.

Two attempts to begin the repatriation were unsuccessful due to the failure of Myanmar to create a condition in which the Rohingyas could put their trust.

Naypyitaw even did not honour the agreements it signed with Dhaka to repatriate the Rohingyas.

Things have gotten worse since breakout of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent military takeover in February.

There has been no engagement between Bangladesh and Myanmar since the military assumed power in Naypyitaw.

Even, the tripartite initiative, involving Bangladesh, Myanmar and China, has stalled for a long time.

Meanwhile, in the past four years, the international community has continued failing the Rohingyas by not solving this protracted crisis and putting the perpetrators to task.

Influential countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and European Union have confined their activities to issuing statements and imposing some targeted sanctions while Asean, China, Russia and India did not do anything at all to resolve the crisis with regional and global consequences.    

Impatient host community

The communities in Cox’s Bazar that are hosting more than a million of Rohingyas have now becoming increasingly impatient with the realization that the problem is not going to be solved anytime soon.

The present feeling is a far cry from the one in August 2017, when they opened their doors for the persecuted Rohingyas.

The people of the host communities thought the Rohingyas were there for a short period of time, but with the time their hope was dashed.

The long presence of a large number of Rohingyas and aid workers has made their livelihood more difficult and the local people are not comfortable with the fact that they have now become a minority in their own areas.

It is feared by the local administration and law enforcement that the unpleasant feeling among the host communities about the Rohingyas may lead to unwelcome incidents.

No violence in Rakhine, Rohingyas should go back, says foreign minister

There is no progress on the repatriation of the Rohingyas, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said prior to his travel to South Sudan and South Africa.

“There is no violence in Rakhine state. So, the Rohingyas should go back to their homes,” he said.