A world obsessed with Ukraine must not forget the Rohingyas
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, escalating the Russo-Ukrainian war, which began in 2014. With more than 6.5 million Ukrainians fleeing the country and a third of the population displaced, the invasion has triggered Europe’s fastest growing refugee crisis since the World War. II.
While the plight of Bangladesh’s Rohingya has been overshadowed by the Covid-19 outbreak, Myanmar’s military coup in February, the Afghan refugee crisis and now the Ukraine crisis, the community remains in limbo, with many of its members deprived of citizenship and the rights that flow from it. this. About one million Rohingya refugees have lived in Bangladesh since 2017, while others have sought refuge in countries around the world.
When the Myanmar military launched a mine clearance operation against them in 2017, several community members were forced to flee. Rakhine state was particularly tense, with reports of rape and murder against Rohingya abounding. The International Court of Justice charged Myanmar with genocide for these atrocities. Meanwhile, the living conditions of the community in the refugee camps are deteriorating.
Due to the prolonged ambiguity surrounding their repatriation to Myanmar, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are increasingly frustrated. Such ambiguity poses a significant risk because it induces many people to engage in illicit activities.
Bangladesh is facing growing difficulties in managing displaced people as foreign support for the Rohingya dwindles, with little hope of repatriation in the near future.
Following the ongoing Ukraine crisis and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, which has already displaced millions of Afghans in and out of the country, another humanitarian crisis has emerged.
While many in the global community have rightly condemned Myanmar’s junta for deposing an elected government, the situation of the Rohingya should not be overlooked. The international community must demand justice for the Rohingyas in addition to the restoration of representative rule in Myanmar. Despite members of the Rohingya Muslim population claiming roots for generations in the country formerly known as Burma, Myanmar’s ruling generals have long promoted the xenophobic stereotype that they are “outsiders” in the country. predominantly Buddhist country.
Bangladesh is home to nearly 1.1 million forcibly displaced Rohingya, the majority of whom arrived on August 25, 2017, following a deadly crackdown by Myanmar’s military described as a “classic example of ethnic cleansing”. The international community should always have taken the safe repatriation of refugees seriously. The Bangladeshi administration began diplomatic attempts to remove them and brokered agreements with Myanmar. However, even five years later, not a single Rohingya has returned home for fear of persecution. It seems Bangladesh is paying the price for expressing sympathy for a persecuted minority community in another country.
Bangladesh wants to resolve the Rohingya situation through peaceful negotiations, and Myanmar and the international community should do the same. Myanmar has attempted to mislead the international community in order to avoid fulfilling its obligations to repatriate and reintegrate forcibly displaced Rohingyas.
The host country wants to secure the return of the Rohingyas through peaceful means, but nothing has worked out so far. It goes without saying that the voluntary repatriation of the Rohingya is the most durable solution
and a long-term solution to the situation. However, due to the Rohingya’s lack of trust in the Myanmar government, repatriation attempts failed twice in November 2018 and August 2019.
Myanmar must ensure that Rohingya refugees are not persecuted upon their return in order to facilitate voluntary repatriation. To this end, the international community and the United Nations should increase pressure on Myanmar to create a safe, secure and dignified environment for Rohingya refugees to return home.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, recently said during his visit to Bangladesh that while focusing on the “catastrophic catastrophe” in Ukraine, they must not forget other difficult situations across the country. world, such as the Rohingya crisis, which require particular attention. and resources.
Despite new funding to Ukraine in response to ‘exceptional humanitarian situation’, US pledged to continue supporting Bangladesh in Rohingya crisis, says senior USAID official who visited camps of Rohingyas in Bangladesh on May 11, 2021.
“We are committed to maintaining our support for the Rohingya response,” USAID Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman told a small group of reporters at an American Center press conference in the capital before speaking. complete his five-day visit to Bangladesh. She continued, “We have a very fundamental approach to humanitarian response, and ensuring that the (Rohingya) refugees who are here receive the basic necessities to respond is a priority for us.”
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh, as well as Rohingya and other conflict-affected people in Myanmar, will benefit from an additional $22 million in humanitarian aid from the Commission European. Protective services, food aid, nutrition, health and housing will all benefit from the investment.
As the world’s attention focuses on migrants in Ukraine, the global community should not overlook the plight of one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Calls by the international community for repatriation to Myanmar must be louder, more visible and more frequent. The Government of Bangladesh must continue to ensure that transfers are entirely voluntary. Any long-term solution must take into account the local and national context. But the flow of humanitarian aid must be ensured until then because they must meet their basic needs.
(The writer is a Kuala Lumpur-based activist, educator, freelance writer and researcher.)