The Hindu Rohingya refugees, who took shelter at a Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar after fleeing the crackdown by Myanmar forces in the Rakhine state, are now keen for an immediate return to their ancestral homes in the bordering country.
They are seeking support from the Bangladesh government and international assistance in this regard, as many are finding it uncomfortable to live in the refugee camp after abandoning their homes in the Buddhist-majority Rakhine state.
A recent visit to the refugee camp revealed the matter.
Kalu, 80, hailing from Chikonchhari of Maungdaw town, said he did not even think of fleeing from their home to avoid the persecution being carried out by Myanmar forces.
“But the violence that erupted in August last year forced us to take refuge in Bangladesh,” he said.
Kalu had to cross over to Cox’s Bazar along with his 70-year-old wife, five children, their spouses and his grandchildren, after they were held hostage in their own home for nearly five days.
Despite receiving relief supplies, treatment, and humanitarian aid, he claimed he no longer felt well at the camp as Bangladesh is not his homeland.
“So, all we urgently need now is assistance from the Bangladesh government and international agencies to help us get back to the Rakhine state,” he said.
Echoing the same, Madhu Ban Shil and his spouse Bijoy Bala, both from Reazuddinpara, said they too do not want to wait before returning.
“We just want to go back as soon as possible. But legal obstacles relating to the process are delaying our return,” said Madhu, who is in his early 70s.
Younger and middle-aged Hindu Rohingya refugees expressed the same sentiment.
According to official estimates, at least 523 people belonging to 165 Hindu families have entered Bangladesh since last August.
Babul Sharma, coordinator of the Hindu-only camp erected at Paschim Hindupara, said the refugees living there receive sufficient relief materials coupled with security and healthcare services.
However, 27 members of six families have already snuck back to Myanmar while dodging the eyes of the camp authorities, he added.
Caretaker of the camp Sujan Sharma said they were yet to figure out why the Hindu Rohingya refugees fled the camp.
The government’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission said nearly 700,000 Rohingyas had entered Bangladesh between August 25 and February 11, fleeing brutal persecution by Myanmar forces in Rakhine state that has been termed “ethnic cleansing” by the UN. The refugees joined several hundred thousand Rohingya people who had been living in Cox’s Bazar for years.
All of them are being sheltered in 12 refugee camps in Teknaf and Ukhiya upazilas of Cox’s Bazar.