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Urgent action needed to end CHT food crisis

  • Published at 01:47 am June 10th, 2016
  • Last updated at 12:33 am June 14th, 2016

The deplorable situation of the Jhum people in Bandarban’s Thanchi upazila is a serious dereliction of duty on the government’s part. A severe food crisis in the region has been forcing these Bangladeshi citizens to leave the country and try to move to Myanmar to seek food, shelter, and livelihood. While poor harvests and harsh financial conditions have exacerbated the state of affairs, the consequences of governmental neglect are reminiscent of the 1974 famine of Bangladesh. The government, on paper, has provided relief in the form of grains to the affected communities, but in reality, the relief is not reaching them, either in the amount that is officially expected or at all. Instead, greed and corruption have taken over, with relief being sold in the market or being given to the affected people as loans by mahajans with unreasonably high rates of interest. Local government officers are in denial of the situation and are not taking responsibility to address what is essentially criminal activity, unless ordered from above. However, such inaction and shrugging off of responsibility is unacceptable. The number of people affected within the Jhum community is less than 10,000. In no way is the Jhum population so large that the government should be unable to do anything to help them. Bangladesh cannot afford to see yet another artificially created famine which could easily have been avoided through proper action. While relief is a temporary solution, it is hoped that the government will come forward to the aid of these neglected people of Bandarban, and avert a larger humanitarian crisis.