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Repatriation is the only way forward

  • Published at 07:18 pm April 22nd, 2018
  • Last updated at 03:39 am April 23rd, 2018
Repatriation is the only way forward

The humanity which the government of Bangladesh has shown in dealing with and housing the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, has been unprecedented -- the moral, financial, and basic support to the sizeable Rohingya population who were persecuted in their motherland, Myanmar, should be an example that the rest of the world would do very well to follow.

The arrangement for shelter and food was beyond the capacity of the Bangladesh government in the truest sense, yet it was managed.

Recorded as the biggest refugee and humanitarian crisis this country has ever faced, and one of the biggest crises to take place in the history of this world, our efforts to tackle it has been repeatedly lauded in the global media since August 2017, when our government opened our borders and saved lives.

However, it is also very well known that Bangladesh is one of the poorest, smallest, most climate-vulnerable, and most densely populated countries in the world. Thus, Bangladesh has been struggling to maintain a decent standard of living for its citizens in distinct development indicators.

Surprisingly, in the face of such an escalating humanitarian and economic crisis, the country’s ongoing development trajectory has not been made to stand still. Bangladesh has achieved remarkable success in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and continue to aspire to achieve SDGs by 2030, which seems possible to accomplish based on our current development progress.

However, the Rohingya crisis could potentially foil Bangladesh’s development plans further down the road. It may obstruct our trajectory to achieve the SDGs by 2030. The devastating impact of the crisis has already been discussed at length by others and how it will affect different sectors like health and environment.

So far, our main concern has been, if we can make those who live under the poverty line economically active.

But in time, the Rohingya crisis will have trickle-down effects on our society and will have adverse effects too immense for our economy, health, society, and environment to recover from. These issues can regress Bangladesh’s efforts towards achieving sustainable development in the long run.

On the other hand, there is immense disappointment and frustration with world leaders as they have failed to take substantial actions against Myanmar, so much so that they even failed, till date, to pressure the Myanmar government into ceasing their ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority.

Meanwhile, the Myanmar government continues to show reluctance in initiating the repatriation process with any sense of urgency. Time is of the essence, and the wait has been long, but now it’s time we take action to repatriate the Rohingya refugees.

Our government needs to be more efficient and tactful in making other world leaders put more pressure on the Myanmar government, before this problem spreads all over Bangladesh.

World leaders should also pay heed to the vulnerability of the Rohingya refugees’ current location in Cox’s Bazar -- because their relocation grounds are threatened by the possibility of large-scale landslides in the monsoon season.

But, unfortunately, the silence of the international community and heads of the international organizations are compelling the government of Bangladesh to take the initiative in relocating the Rohingya refugees.

It would behoove the international community to review their strategy and, instead, opt to put the right amount of pressure on Myanmar in order to kickstart the repatriation process, as it is Myanmar that has been playing coy regarding the whole affair even now

Given the situation, it would behoove the international community to review their strategy and, instead, opt to put the right amount of pressure on Myanmar in order to kickstart the repatriation process, as it is Myanmar that has been playing coy regarding the whole affair even now.

We, the people of Bangladesh, cannot support the relocation of Rohingya anywhere in Bangladesh, not simply because this move threatens our country’s progress and development plans in the long run, but that it also completely fails to acknowledge the crimes committed, and still being committed, by the Myanmar junta.

This is not only a Myanmar or a Bangladesh problem, but a global humanitarian impasse.

So far, Bangladesh has already paid its price in sustaining the refugee situation with some level of compassion -- with food, land, money, effort, security, and time. It is time for the rest of the world to take stringent measures to resolve this problem, especially when it is common knowledge that it is quite impossible for Bangladesh to manage the nearly one million Rohingya refugees on its own.

It is the right time to apply more pressure on the Myanmar government and fight against its inhumanity towards their own countrymen.

But the bitter truth is that the world still remains reluctant in making any sort of bold statement against Myanmar, let alone taking any sort of concrete measures.

But the question then, invariably, becomes: Why?  

Muhammad Mehedi Masud is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Development Studies, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya.

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