Humanitarian, physician, and prominent British parliamentarian Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, who recently visited the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, talks about the ongoing Rohingya crisis with the Dhaka Tribune
What have you experienced at the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar during your visit?
I have visited the Rohingya camps recently and have seen so much. This crisis elicits not just extreme sadness and grief, but also anger. We should never allow anything like this to happen. The Rohingya are being so brutally persecuted in their homelands.
As a physician by profession, what can you tell us about the health hazards and medical care at the camps?
I have provided medical treatment to some of the Rohingya during my visit to the camps. Some of them are injured from making the difficult journey from Myanmar to Bangladesh; some of them have respiratory problems. Apart from issues relating to their escape from Myanmar, there are other everyday medical emergencies. People still have heart attacks; there are complications while giving birth, and so on.
Apart from health hazards, what other kinds of problems have you seen at the Rohingya camps?
I have seen so many orphaned children, so many unaccompanied young girls and boys. There are risks of exploitation of these kids. We have to make sure they are protected. And also make sure that psycho-social trauma of the people are addressed. It is really a long healing process.
What are your thoughts on the Bangladesh government and their supervision so far at the Rohingya camps?
I think Bangladesh has been amazing. It has opened its border and taken in so many people. It is not easy for any country. Around 22% of the people are living under the poverty line. It is expensive and very difficult to meet the basic needs. Now with the arrival of so many refugees, the expense will rise by the end of the year. Even then, Bangladesh did a fantastic job. Now, Bangladesh needs support in tackling the Rohingya crisis. I am concerned that unless the international communities step up their support, it will be very difficult for Bangladesh to continue doing the fantastic work they have done so far.
How do you evaluate the role of NGOs with regards to the Rohingya issue?
I have seen Christian Aid and Med World, they are doing a fantastic job, providing clinical and other basic support to the displaced people. So many international NGOs are contributing in facing the crisis. But resources are limited. Organizations should also carry out advocacy work around the world to ensure that people are aware about the crisis and keep donating for the Rohingya.
What’s your expectation from the global community to resolve the Rohingya crisis?
Humanity has no borders. We have global responsibilities. Firstly, the international community needs to support Bangladesh in supporting the Rohingya. But also, the international community must call out Myanmar. They need to say to Aung San Suu Kyi: “Come on now. Sort this out. It cannot be allowed to continue.” I really want the global community to come together and conduct an independent inquiry to know what happened in Myanmar and in its Rakhine province. I want the global leaders to make a commitment to stopping this torture, the rape and the murders of the Rohingya people. And sadly, I am not sure it is going to happen. But I am hopeful that it will and I will be watching very closely.
How do you think the Rohingya community can raise their voices before the global stage in demanding their rights?
I think it’s the responsibility of the Rohingya diaspora living around the world to take charge of raising their voices across the globe – to spread word around about what kind of oppression they are facing. Besides, politicians across the world have to come out to find the truth and spread the message. But it is too hard for such a community who are poor and displaced from their homeland. During my visit to the camps, a mother described how she faced torture and I promised her that I would spread the message around the world.
Where do you think the UK stands regarding the ongoing Rohingya crisis?
I think there is definitely a good understanding of what is going on in this region. I cannot speak for everybody, I can speak for myself. But I know all government institutions know about the crisis and there is a big call by our foreign secretary for taking action regarding this issue.
How can the UK government work more closely with Bangladesh in taking care of the displaced people from Myanmar?
I know that the UK government’s Department of International Development already commits a lot of money to Bangladesh and I am sure they will continue to do so. The British government is greatly supportive of the host community for taking the burden of such a big number of refugees.