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World must side by Bangladesh on the Rohingya aid issue

World must side by Bangladesh on the Rohingya aid issue


Bangladesh has given shelter to at least 100,000 Rohingyas, including 700,000 Rohingyas who fled for their lives in 2017 in the face of torture by the Myanmar army, only for humanitarian reasons. Besides, the government has been demanding the international community including the United Nations to take effective steps to repatriate the Rohingyas. Those staying in refugee camps also want to return to their homes as soon as possible.

But unfortunately, not a single Rohingya has been sent back to Myanmar in almost 6 long years. No goodwill from the international community can be observed in this regard. On the other hand, as the date of repatriation is approaching, the matter is becoming uncertain. Multifaceted conspiracies are going on to thwart the repatriation process. Tom Andrews, UN Special Envoy for the situation in Myanmar, called on Bangladesh to stop repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar under the pilot project. This is worrying.

The Rohingyas held a human chain and gathered in at least 13 camps of Ukhia and Teknaf on Thursday to thwart the conspiracy on repatriation and to ensure speedy repatriation. At that time, Rohingya leaders condemned the mysterious actions of the United Nations like reducing the ration and stopping the ration of those who want to return to their homeland. At the same time, they sought the cooperation of the United Nations on the issue of repatriation.

Notably, the sheltered Rohingyas have been demanding a speedy return to Myanmar by guaranteeing citizenship, security and freedom of movement from the beginning. But just as Myanmar’s administration is not serious about repatriation, international organizations including the United Nations are now diverting their attention from the Rohingyas by citing various reasons for the crisis. On the contrary, by reducing the amount of assistance, they want to mix them with the people of Bangladesh, which is not acceptable at all. The consequences for the security and sovereignty of an independent country can be dire.

It should be remembered that Bangladesh is not a signatory state to any international refugee law or convention. Bangladesh is not even obliged to open its borders to accept Rohingyas as refugees. Bangladesh has no responsibility in this regard. This large number of Rohingyas have been sheltered only for humanitarian reasons. Despite the pressure of huge population in the country, the bold step taken by the government for humanitarian reasons has also been appreciated around the world.

However, in the current global economic context, if the international community fails to convince or exert pressure on Myanmar to take the Rohingya community back to Rakhine, then Bangladesh will have no other option but to take a strict stance on providing shelter to this community.

Aid to the Rohingya, forcibly displaced from Myanmar and seeking refuge in Bangladesh, is not meeting the promises of rich donor countries. The World Food Program (WFP) has reduced its monthly food aid from $10 per person to $8 this month due to a funding crunch. This organization of the United Nations has said that Bangladesh has to fill this shortage of food aid. Bangladesh strongly objected to this. WFP has been informed by Bangladesh that the responsibility of raising the Rohingyas lies with the international community, not Bangladesh. The amount of food aid cannot be reduced in any way, but must be increased.

Meanwhile, concerned officials fear that due to the reduction of food aid to the Rohingyas, unrest and chaos will increase in the shelter camps. According to them, drug and arms smuggling and anti-social activities will increase. Lack of food will create an anarchic situation in the camp.

Disaster Management and Relief Secretary. Kamrul Hasan confirmed the truth of the matter. He told Ajkar newspaper in his office last Thursday, “WFP has reduced the monthly food aid to the Rohingyas.” Bangladesh has been asked to meet the deficit aid. We did not agree to that. I told them in a letter that the responsibility of supporting the Rohingyas is not of Bangladesh, but of the world community. Food aid should not be reduced but should be increased.

The top officials of the government are meeting at the Prime Minister’s office tomorrow at 3 pm to determine what to do in the situation. Chief Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office. Tofazzal Hossain Mia presided over this meeting on the overall management and humanitarian assistance activities of ‘Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Citizens’. Public Security Department, Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief and concerned officials including the Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office will be present. Ambassadors, High Commissioners and representatives of relevant UN agencies have also been asked to attend.

It is known that when the Rohingya started coming to Bangladesh from Myanmar in 2017, WFP has been providing them with food, nutrition and other urgent assistance. This emergency assistance is being provided with the help of donor groups and partner organizations. Currently there are about 1 million Rohingyas registered in Bangladesh, but in reality, this number is over 11 million. All are being given food assistance equivalent to USD 12 per month through vouchers. Using these vouchers, Rohingya families can choose food from WFP outlets located in all camps. The United Nations is struggling to deliver food to vulnerable populations due to rising global food prices due to the Covid pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, as well as funding shortfalls.

WFP is cutting food aid in various countries including Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan. Similarly, last March, WFP’s food aid amount of $12 was reduced to $10. For the first time in nearly 6 years since the Rohingya crisis, the agency has reduced aid to Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar. After just three months, it is being reduced from $10 to $8 again from June 1 for the same reason. Through this, 33 percent of Rohingya’s daily ration will be reduced. That is, each Rohingya will be given food vouchers worth only 8 dollars (Tk 840) every month.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in an interview given to NHK television during her recent visit to Japan, ‘It is becoming difficult to run Rohingya camps in Bangladesh due to the increase in fuel and food costs.’

The United Nations cut food aid to the Rohingya by 17 percent last March due to funding shortages. UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, warned on April 28, ‘If funds are not received, another 20 percent reduction in food aid will be required within the next few weeks.’

When asked about this, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner and Additional Secretary Mohammad Mizanur Rahman, assigned to Cox’s Bazar, told Ajker newspaper, “The Rohingyas in the camp will suffer severe malnutrition.’ Anger and frustration will arise in them. Their reckless behavior will increase. Discontent and anarchy will increase with fights, murders. Anti-social activities will multiply in the camps along with drug and arms trade. It will be very difficult to control them.

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