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Why Bangladesh Must Let the Rohingya Speak for Themselves

20 32 12

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh drew the attention and concern of the world when they fled deadly violence in Myanmar in 2017. Three years later, they are among the most disempowered people in the world, with the least control over their lives. Recent events have accentuated this, and it is time for change.

In the first week of October, violent clashes between two criminal gangs inside the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar killed at least eight people and injured hundreds of others. Those suffering most from the bloodshed are refugees caught in the middle. The killings must be investigated, the perpetrators held accountable, and refugees protected. These attacks are the last thing that the refugees need, having fled crimes against humanity in Myanmar and languished in limbo ever since. Theirs is a precarious fate, amid constant fears that they could be relocated offshore to a remote silt island soon. Rohingya refugees are now afraid that the authorities could use the camp violence as a pretext for the relocation.

For three years, more than 740,000 Rohingya refugees have been living in threadbare camps, under shelters made of tarpaulins and bamboo. They have been lashed by monsoon rains and endured cyclones and extreme heat. No one should have to live – with no end in sight – in conditions where they have no place to call their home, no work to earn a living, hardly enough food to complete a meal, and no education to build a future.

Including earlier arrivals dating back to 1978, Bangladesh is now host to nearly 1 million refugees. The status quo for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh is neither sustainable nor desirable. At the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last month, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina regretted that no Rohingya could be repatriated in the past three years and called on “the international community to play a more effective role for a solution to the........

© The Diplomat

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