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ASEAN can no longer turn a blind-eye to Myanmar's atrocities

13 51 0
22.07.2019

After fighters attacked security targets in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state on August 25, 2017, the Myanmar military responded by killing and maiming thousands of Rohingya civilians, raping hundreds of women and girls, and burning entire villages to the ground. Almost two years after the military-led "clearance operation" that forced more than 745,000 Rohingya men, women and children to flee and seek refuge in Bangladesh, this humanitarian crisis seems more intractable than ever.

Systematic state discrimination against the Rohingya, making them stateless and without rights, and recurring state-sanctioned violence spurred various influxes of refugees into Bangladesh in the 1970s and 1990s.

Together with more than 300,000 Rohingya who had already taken shelter during these previous waves of violence, Bangladesh now hosts over one million Rohingya refugees - most of whom residing in Cox's Bazar, now the world's largest refugee camp. It is a testament to Bangladesh's historic generosity that it did not turn away any recent arrivals despite hosting large numbers of refugees.

Yet, neither Bangladesh's patience nor its coffers are infinite, and the strain of caring for the refugees is starting to show. Merely a few weeks ago, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in parliament that the country's resources are nearing their limits and there is growing tension, as Bangladesh grapples with how best to deal with the situation.

To any who have visited the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar as I recently did with national human rights commissioners from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, one thing is clear: conditions in the camps remain abysmal and unsustainable for long-term stay. The overcrowding and lack of planning in many of these camps could lead to the spread of communicable diseases and create fire hazards, while deforestation has made the area prone to landslides and floods during........

© Al Jazeera