For the last three years, the Rohingya refugee crisis has been a thorn in the flesh for Bangladesh, but Myanmar has shown little cooperation to take its people back home.
The Bangladesh government has also failed to create significant pressure to force the south-eastern neighbour to even initiate the repatriation. They are still seeking support from regional and international communities in this regard.
Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) bodies and international non-government organisations (INGOs) are limiting their activities to circulate statements over the issue. Local NGOs are seeking aid for Rohingyas from the government and global donors.
In August 2017, a large-scale military crackdown in Myanmar forced over 740,000 Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh. They joined their refugee brethren and sisters already stationed in Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas of Cox's Bazar.
The area now provides shelter to around 1.1 million Rohingya refugees, about three times the local population, said a World Bank report.
For these three years, the huge and excessive Rohingya population has led to the deterioration of the socio-economic situation in Cox's Bazar as well as a humanitarian catastrophe among the host communities.
Rohingyas have been given shelter on over 6,800 acres of forest land, destroying the ecology and environment of the area, which has led to a significant drop in agricultural production.
Health and sanitation have become a serious concern in camp areas due to faecal contamination in surface and groundwater reservoirs while water-borne diseases have thus become a major threat in the area.
Failing to repatriate this huge number of people, the government has had to spend Tk2,312 crore to relocate 1 lakh of them to Bhashan Char.
They have also mobilised big international grants – $590 million from the World Bank and $100 million from Asian Development Bank (ADB).
In addition, they spent Tk200cr from the 2019-20 budget under the social safety net programmes and have earmarked another Tk202 crore in the current fiscal year's budget.
The local NGOs are also mobilising funds to meet the humanitarian needs of these displaced people.
At a webinar on Monday, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen also asked support of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and neighbours of Myanmar like India, China, and even Japan and Korea.
He said Bangladesh tried to bring a peaceful solution to the Rohingya crisis through bilateral dialogues. Failure of those efforts attest that Rohingyas do not feel comfortable with prevailing conditions in Rakhine as the Myanmar authorities were hardly sincere in convincing them.
He also expressed concern over the involvement of Rohingyas in various crimes in Bangladesh – human trafficking, drug trade, murder, abduction for ransom, sex trade, rape, theft and robbery.
Masud also reiterated that Bangladesh rejects any notion of local integration of Rohingyas and that the country is committed to ensuring their repatriation to Myanmar.
Considering the Covid-19 situation and conflicts in Rakhine, it seems Myanmar is making the Rohingya return difficult, he added.
UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, also called on Monday for renewed support and solutions for displaced and stateless Rohingya communities both within and outside of Myanmar.
"Three years on from the latest exodus of Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar and sought sanctuary in Bangladesh from August 2017 onwards, challenges persist and continue to evolve," said UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has added additional complexities to the crisis. The international community must not only maintain support for refugees and their host communities, but adapt to critical needs and expand the search for solutions," Mahecic said.
The UN also says Bangladesh has demonstrated a profound humanitarian commitment to Rohingya refugees and ensured their protection and extended life-saving humanitarian support, and now hosts nine out of every ten Rohingya refugees registered in the Asia-Pacific region.
Meanwhile, Cox's Bazar CSO NGO (CCNF) Forum demanded all-out efforts from the UN, INGOs and the government to expedite the process of a dignified repatriation of Rohingyas as Bangladesh is suffering multifaceted climate change catastrophes and economic fallouts because of Covid-19 and recent floods.
A network of 50 local and national-level NGOs working in Cox's Bazar reiterated this demand from a press statement on Monday on the eve of the third year of Rohingya influx in Cox's Bazar.
Abu Morshed Chowdhury, executive director of PHALS and co-chair of CCNF, said while Cox's Bazar has a lot of potential for development, the district is suffering multiple problems, especially price hikes and a bad communication infrastructure.