THERE is no end to the miseries of Rohingya Muslims. In an unfortunate incident, fifteen people were killed and four hundred are missing after a huge fire destroyed the shanty homes of tens of thousands of Rohingya in the world’s biggest refugee settlement in the south-eastern Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh.
The very incident speaks volumes of the plight and the threat faced by these ill-fated refugees who thronged to Bangladesh after facing the worst form of oppression and tyranny in Myanmar.
Whilst Bangladesh really deserves appreciation for hosting them, nonetheless, the life they are spending at the Cox’s Bazar settlement is highly vulnerable to catastrophic weather events.
The mega camp is severely overcrowded. Densely packed refugees are at heightened risk of communicable diseases, fires, community tension and domestic and sexual violence.
The life of children in the refugee settlement is more miserable who in fact have no proper facilities for education.
Firstly, to avoid further fire like incidents, it is imperative that the international organizations support Bangladesh to relocate these refugees from the mega camp to smaller, less densely packed camps on flat and accessible land.
Bangladesh should register the Rohingya, ensure access to adequate health care and education and provide them greater freedom of movement so that they could engage in livelihood activities outside the camp.
Myanmar bears responsibility for the Rohingya refugee crisis and resolving it will necessitate fundamental and durable changes in that country.
It must ensure full respect for returnees’ human rights, equal access to nationality and security among communities in Rakhine State as a precondition for voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity.
In the meantime, donor governments and inter-governmental organizations should be genuinely and robustly involved, both in supporting Bangladesh to meet the humanitarian needs of all Rohingya refugees – particularly by funding the humanitarian appeal for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis – but also by applying concerted and persistent pressure on Myanmar to meet all conditions necessary for safe, dignified and sustainable return of the Rohingya refugees.