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Oxfam: Rohingyas still trapped two years on from exodus

  • Published at 05:27 pm August 23rd, 2019
File photo of Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp in Ukhiya, Cox's Bazar Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Report underscores the urgency to address the root causes of violence in Rakhine State

The Rohingyas in Myanmar and Bangladesh say they feel trapped and that their lives have been on hold for two years since a campaign of violence that forced hundreds of thousands to flee.

Despite global attention and a huge humanitarian effort, more than a million Rohingyas are being denied basic human rights with no resolution in sight, says international aid organization Oxfam.

Two years on since August 25, more than 700,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh after a military crackdown by the Myanmar army.

An estimated 500,000 Rohingya people remain in Myanmar, including almost 130,000 confined in fenced in camps where movement is severely restricted, Oxfam added in their report.

Efforts to return up to 3,450 refugees to Myanmar began earlier this week which failed as the refugees feared going back to their home in Rakhine without a guarantee of rights and justice, the aid organization added.

The report revealed that Rohingyas living in camps in Myanmar told Oxfam staff how endless checkpoints and confusing bureaucracy are cutting them off from healthcare, education and work.

Many describe waiting days or even weeks for a permit to go to hospital, while some said they knew of people who had died waiting, including women in labour.

A generation of children are missing out on an education, since not all camps have formal schools, and there is only one secondary school to serve 23 camps.

Adults can no longer earn a living through agriculture or fishing, leaving them reliant on scanty food rations, it said.

Oxfam praised the Sheikh Hasina-led government in Bangladesh which has shown generosity in hosting almost a million Rohingyas in what has become the world’s largest refugee camp.

Elizabeth Hallinan, advocacy manager for Oxfam’s Rohingya response, said: “Rohingya people feel as though they are in limbo with no end in sight. They are alive, but merely surviving. Immediate action is needed so they are free to travel and work to provide for their families.”

Oxfam called on the Aung San Suu Kyi led Myanmar government to end restrictions on movement and ensure equal rights for the Rohingya people.

They also urged to address the root causes of violence in Rakhine State, as outlined in the Rakhine Advisory Commission recommendations.