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Host communities suffer as Rohingya crisis drags on

  • Published at 01:18 am November 30th, 2018
Rohingya crisis/report
Speakers at the unveiling of a report on the impact of the Rohingya crisis on the host communities in Cox's Bazar on Thursday Dhaka Tribune

Rising prices of commodities and a shortage of drinking water due to the influx of Rohingyas, are among the issues plaguing locals, the study says

With more than a year having passed since camps for the Rohingyas were constructed in Cox’s Bazar, with repatriation efforts still unsuccessful, host communities are struggling to bear the burden of the refugees, according to a study.

Rising prices of commodities and a shortage of drinking water due to the influx of Rohingyas, are among the issues plaguing locals, the study says.

The Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD) unveiled the report at the Brac Centre in Dhaka on Thursday. A delegation from ALRD visited the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar on Monday and Tuesday to collect information for the study .

 “The surge of aid is understandably concentrated on the refugees. However, due to complications brought on by the Rohingya crisis, host communities are now demanding aid as well. They cannot help but feel marginalized in their own communities,” the report says.

Most people in the host communities have modest incomes from informal agricultural and non-agricultural work, and the rise in prices of commodities due to the surge of Rohingyas has reduced their purchasing power, it added.

Furthermore, wages in the area have declined.

“From earning Tk500 a day, an agricultural labourer is now taking home just Tk300. Although it is illegal to employ the Rohingyas, host communities claim that the practice has been running rampant without regulation. Refugees are being illegally hired at half the local wages,” the report says.

In addition, deep tube wells set up inside the Rohingya camps have reduced the overall groundwater levels in the area, the study found.

The local government has also temporarily shut down birth registration in an effort to avoid the possibility of Rohingya newborns being registered as Bangladesh citizens. This has led to frustration among members of host communities, as their children are also being denied the right to citizenship. 

Locals claim Rohingyas are prioritized at health centres and several among the displaced people are involved in criminal activities both in and outside the camps, the report added.

It also expressed fear that competition for resources may spark conflicts between Rohingya refugees and host communities.

ALRD Executive Director Shamsul Huda said they will submit the report to the government so the findings can be used to take effective measures and address the situation.

Ujjaini Halim, executive director of India’s Institute for Motivating Self-Employment, said these problems cannot be solved overnight and there are uncertainties about the compensation Bangladesh may receive for hosting the Rohingya refugees.

“Bangladesh cannot provide this kind of support [to the Rohingyas] for very long. The priority should be quick repatriation of the Rohingya,” she added.