As the Rohingya crisis has, as hinted at by international organizations more than one, assumed genocidal proportions and the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) together with her population stand literally pressured down heavily by concerns caused by the crisis, an inclusive approach to the issue is what seems to have been missed so far.
There are, to be precise, a number of stakeholders associated with the Rohingya crisis. They comprise of the Rohingya refugees themselves, the Governments of both Bangladesh and Myanmar, the local communities hosting the refugees and the international organizations or agencies with the UN on top of them all.
True it is that since the recent influx of thousands of Rohingyas into Bangladesh broke out, there have been hectic activities with regard to the crisis by the GoB and a number of international agencies. Various mechanisms aimed at a viable solution to the problem are being dwelt and debated upon. But regrettable as it may sound, reportedly the Rohingyas are not consulted effectively in this regard. As an inevitable result, many an effort geared towards a solution just gets bogged down. For an instance, the planned relocation of the Rohingya refugees from Cox’sBazar to Noakhali is, to many, an impossibility inasmuch as the decision is viewed by the Rohingyas and the UN Refugee Agency as unilateral on the part of the GoB.
At the backdrop of a deal arrived at recently by the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar meant for the peaceful repatriation of the Rohingyas to their country of origin, a number of international agencies have reportedly spoken out about the Rohingyas being taken back to their own homesteads and households in Myanmar. Given the scenario of the Rohingya homesteads razed to the ground and the households burnt down indiscriminately, any government that be will require a substantial period of time and ample resources for making room for normalcy to reign supreme. Put simply, the Rohingyas may never regain things that they were forced to leave behind in Myanmar just as they were. Myanmar, for obvious reasons, should perhaps be urged in all earnestness to rebuild the lives of the Rohingyas anew while she must be allowed the space, resources and the time required for the purpose. In the meantime, the possibility of an early process of repatriation already in sight should by no means be allowed to be hindered.
The local communities playing host to the Rohingya refugees at Ukhiya and Teknaf in Cox’sBazar have long been made to bear the brunt of the crisis. Apart from the enormous ecological imbalance caused, there is no end to the dilemmas that the people of the locality encounter in their day to day life. Problems ranging from loss of sources of livelihoods to that of habitat coupled with the menace of diseases as deadly as AIDS are what they think are in store for them in the days to come soon. Moreover, the immediate negative impacts of the crisis on the local population relate also to spiraling costs of daily necessities and travelling within the area. There are scores of families rendered helpless due to loss of livelihoods caused by the arrival of the Rohingya refugees. Sadly enough, the GoB and the NGOs operating in this part of the country have so far failed to gauge the gravity of the troubles the common people of the locality are in.
While there seems to be no other option than relentlessly pursuing by all means possible for an early and meaningful solution to the Rohingya crisis, it would be better for the GoB and the agencies concerned to take into account the involvement and needs of all the stakeholders.
The writer is an Advocate practising at the District and Sessions Judge’s Court, Cox’sBazar and Bandarban.