The cost of housing and feeding the estimated 379,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh since the latest wave of violence began in Myanmar could be as high as $80 million a month, experts have warned.
Economists and policymakers have said the international community must help to bear the estimated costs, as the prospect of Bangladesh doing this alone is financially unsustainable based on the country’s current per capita income of $1,602.
“The current estimate stands at $800 to $1 billion a year for the refugees: up to 70% of Bangladesh’s income per capita,” Ashikur Rahman, a senior economist of Policy Research Institute (PRI), told the Dhaka Tribune.
“This is a conservative estimate, which would provide only for basic services.”
Debapriya Bhattacharya, a distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said there are two types of costs involved in providing the stricken Rohingya with essential services: direct and indirect.
“Direct costs include food and health services while indirect costs are incurred by the community and environment,” he said.
“The financing of these should not only come from Bangladesh and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); international non-government organisation (INGOs) should also assist.”
Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of CPD, said the Bangladesh government needs to receive funds from the UN refugee agency to avoid stressing out the economy.
“The government has to think about the long-time impact as it would put pressure on natural resources which is why they have to repatriate the refugees with the help of the global community,” he said.
Joseph Tripura, a spokesperson for UNHCR Bangladesh, told the Dhaka Tribune: “We will able to say the exact amount of funds needed for the refugees after the we finish counting all of them.”