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Have we made a mistake sheltering the Rohingyas?

Shining Editorial || shiningbd

Published: 15:30, 14 April 2021   Update: 05:11, 21 April 2021
Have we made a mistake sheltering the Rohingyas?

Figure: The scenario of a portion of the Balukhali Rohingya camp after a terrible fire broke out there (Photo: The Nation)

According to a UN report, a deadly fire on March 22 gutted more than 10,000 tents in the world’s largest refugee settlement camps, located in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, leaving at least 15 people dead and more than 550 injured.

In addition, three other Rohingya refugees had died and seven shops were impaired when a fire erupted on 31 March at a market in the Kutupalong refugee camp. The causes of the fire are more likely to be accidental.

However, it is yet to be unveiled whether the gang culture and growing communal conflict among the Rohingya community played a role. Newspapers and media reports have already shown that the situation of law and order in the Rohingya refugee camps is deteriorating on a daily basis. Kidnapping, murder, drugs, human trafficking and arms trafficking have become daily affairs in the camps.

It is therefore not surprising that the root cause of the fire is the deteriorating security situation in camps. Bangladesh, to ease the huge burden and to maintain the law and order situation, started to relocate Rohingyas to a far better temporary shelter for them in the Bhashan Char under the Ashrayan Project-3.

However, the international community from the beginning opposed the transfer and now they are opposing the barbed wire fencing that was initiated due to the critical security implications. It is really pathetic that rather than playing a responsible role in the Rohingya repatriation, some organizations are showing concern in the wrong direction. The security concerns associated with integrating Rohingya refugees into the host community will be very devastating if there are no fences. There were countless reports of Rohingyas using counterfeit Bangladeshi passports in airports or entering into marital relationships to get nationality, despite ban on such marriages from Bangladesh government.

Who will be held accountable if a single miscreant among the Rohingyas crosses the border and carries out terrorist or other illegal activities? It is well known that when vulnerability is high in a community, extremism can be easily incentivized. INGOs who recommend removal of fences should consider that bigger picture and keep in mind that ignoring the security consequences would inevitably lead to a more devastating humanitarian crisis.

There is a proverb that ‘excess of anything is bad’ which is also applicable in case of the Rohingya issue. The so-called humanitarian outlook of the INGOs, stemming from a deplorable lack of understanding of the local context, is lingering the possibility of a fast and durable repatriation process.

Besides, it always seemed that rather than focusing on repatriation and underlying social issues ostracizing in Myanmar, the interest groups as well as the international community always put more pressure on Bangladesh, a country that has been sheltering Rohingyas from solely humanitarian ground. Before pointing the finger towards Bangladesh, they should keep in mind that Bangladesh is the only nation that opened their border and sheltered a quite million Rohingya refugees rescued from the Bay of Bengal in time of their distress.

Question arises foregoing the role of the international community- Has Bangladesh made any mistake sheltering the Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals? Does the onus of the Rohingya crisis solely rested on the shoulder of Bangladesh?


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