Conditions of Rohingyas at high risks, TIB urged to create favourable environment for repatriation through mounting pressure and diplomatic initiatives
Forcibly displaced Myanmar Nationals to Bangladesh, the Rohingyas are under grave risk related to food, clean water, clothing, shelter, sanitation and health. Despite diverse efforts of government and private sector with support from national and global level, the afflicted, oppressed and the victims of unprecedented atrocity by the state of Myanmar are being exploited in different ways by a coterie consist of several representatives of displaced refugees, few local public representatives and politically influential. In the face of horrible humanitarian crisis in the history of Bangladesh, the government has set a commendable and humanitarian example by providing shelter and various other basic needs in such a short notice to the Rohingyas from humanitarian perspective. The management of large number of refugees with limited resources and growing challenges pose massive risk of long-term social, economic, environmental and health related disaster including national security to Bangladesh. If these issues cannot be addressed properly, Bangladesh is likely to face greater challenges in future. This was observed in a rapid assessment report by TIB on the relief response and shelter management of displaced Rohingyas.
Appreciating the ongoing various efforts of government and non-governmental institutions, supported by national and international level in tackling diverse challenges regarding Rohingya crisis, the report observed that due to lack of complete list, equity in assistance programs including relief distribution could not be ensured. The camps still lack safe drinking water and hygiene sanitation system. Due to lack of safe sanitation system, there lies risk of outbreak of diseases. The ongoing health service is very inadequate compared to the need and the risks of outbreak of water-borne and communal diseases are increasing. As the winter advances, the displaced will have to face a severe crisis of clothing and shelter in fighting cold winds.
The report revealed number of observations regarding security. Absence of security arrangement in the border points to check trafficking of illegal drug and firearms during the influx of Rohingya people was identified as a big concern. Besides, there is no provision of emergency support for the Rohingyas injured by Mayanmar military. Exploitation and extortion of Rohingyas have been happening during the period of border crossing, currency exchange and building temporary shelters. Though Rohingyas are accommodated in camps situated in the land owned by Forest Department, a local syndicate consisting local UP members, local political leaders and some of the Rohingya ‘Majhi’ have been collecting BDT 2000-5000 from each family for shelter.
The report observed that the Rohingya crisis could emerge as a heavy challenge to the stability and communal harmony in the Chittagong hill Tracts (CHT) area and that might pose a risk of bridging collusion between extremists and Rohingyas in relevant area. If the Rohingyas spread across other areas of Bangladesh, that might result into multifaceted social, economic, national security-related long-term risks. The report identified the growing leadership structure among Rohingyas as a complex and long-term problem which should be controlled immediately. Information regarding increased drug-trafficking and human trafficking were also observed in the report.
The assessment report titled “Problems related to refuge provided in Bangladesh to forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals (Rohingya): an assessment on governance challenges” was unveiled in a press conference at TIB’s Dhaka office on 1 November 2017. TIB’s Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, Adviser, Executive Management of TIB Professor Dr. Sumaiya Khair; and Director, Research and Policy of TIB Mohammad Rafiqul Hassan were present in the event while Gulam Mohiuddin, Programme Manager, the Climate Finance Governance unit of TIB presented the research findings. Three other researchers involved with the assessment study were Zafar Shadeq Chowdhury, Deputy Programme Manager, Research and Policy, TIB; Md Razu Ahmed Masum, Assistant Manager, Research, Climate Finance Governance, TIB; and Md. Jashim Uddin, Area Manager, Civic Engagement, TIB.
In the press conference, Dr. Iftekharuzzaman said, "Bangladesh made an example from a humanitarian perspective by providing shelter in a very short span. Since the Rohingyas were forced to leave Myanmar to escape the atrocities of Myanmar government and army, it is not for Bangladesh alone to resolve the issue, Myanmar government and international community must take the responsibility of one million Rohingya." Stressing on imposing targeted sanctions on Myanmar in order to stop the Rohingya exodus, Dr. Zaman further called on the Bangladesh government to expedite its diplomatic efforts to compel Myanmar to take back their nationals from Bangladesh.
In the recommendations part, the report stressed on strong diplomatic efforts by Bangladesh government through involving all related stakeholders to mount pressure on Myanmar government to repatriate the Rohingyas, and lobbying to take immediate steps by relevant states, stakeholders and international and UN agencies to mitigate the crisis and put diplomatic pressure on Myanmar. It further recommended to estimate national multipurpose-cost in addressing Rohingya crisis with risk assessment to ensure equity and adequacy in relief and other supports distribution properly, and ensure international aid and relief to bear the expenses.
Conducted between September 2017 to October 2017 to review the relief and shelter management of the forcibly displaced Rohingyas of Myanmar and identify the challenges of the overall situation from the governance perspective, the report assessed the collected data in light of four indicators of good governance- transparency, accountability, equity and sensitivity.
In overcoming the socio-economic and security risks of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and establishing good governance in the overall relief and shelter management, the highlighted recommendations of the report among others, included deploy adequate manpower to complete the biometric registration urgently; identify and take legal steps towards the syndicate exploiting Rohingya people during border crossing, currency exchange and building temporary shelters; increase monitoring process of respective assigned organizations and publish monitoring reports periodically; create an integrated website on Rohingya management information; establish an effective grievance redress mechanism; enlist persons with disabilities and orphans urgently and take especial measures for them; develop strategic plan to protect environment, forest and biodiversity of the area; take measures to resist trafficking of illegal drugs and other goods in borders; steps to avoid irregularities in relief token distribution; strengthen security arrangement in camp areas at night; ensure maternal and child health care for pregnant mothers, infants and children and encourage the Rohingyas to adopt family planning methods; address the needs of affected local inhabitants and integrate their demand into overall response program etc.