The Rohingyas are an ethnic minority group in Myanmar that has, due to persecution, crossed into neighboring Bangladesh in large numbers over decades, laying uneven pressure on the scarce resources of Bangladesh. Bangladesh is now hosting around one million Rohingya refugees and this highlights the serious concern of human security. The Myanmar government has been very reluctant to take back their nationals, the Rohingya, despite the robust diplomatic endeavors of the Bangladesh government regarding repatriation.
Human rights groups and the international community have condemned the very recent in-country relocation of Rohingya refugees by the Bangladesh government from Cox's Bazar to the island Bhasan Char, saying it is a low-lying land although the authority has said all the necessary measures have been taken in Bhasan Char.
The issue drew worldwide attention when 700 thousand Rohingyas fled their nation and crossed into Bangladesh three years ago in a matter of months.
Consequently, the Rohingya displacement is not any more a homegrown or internal matter of Myanmar; rather, it is currently perhaps one of the most pivotal worldwide emergencies.
It's appreciable that the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations in a virtual discussion with UN High Commissioner for the Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi presented the rationale of Rohingya relocation to the housing project on the island at Hatiya upazila of Noakhali district in Bangladesh.
Despite Bangladesh's sincere efforts, Rohingya repatriation could not be started in more than three years after some 750,000 Rohingyas fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine State. The reality suggests that, presence of about a million Rohingyas in a limited space has become risky. It has left the local livelihood, environment and socio-economic situation under threat. There are also security challenges in the crowded camps.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen had said in an explanation that the public authority won't compel the Rohingyas to move to Bhasan Char. As per the minister, the public authority isn't taking Rohingyas to Bhasan Char forcefully and instead are taking the individuals who are happy to go. They are going to Bhasan Char consciously and on their own volition.
The UN and different rights groups asserted that they have limited access to data about the process that has been going on and that the authority still can't seem to permit a specialised group to evaluate the viability of the lodging project in Bhasan Char. The UN additionally said any movement ought to be voluntary and all necessary steps as well as safety measures regarding the relocation should be taken.
Considering the present reality, the UN and international community should appreciate the relentless efforts of the Bangladesh government to ensure a secure and tranquil living for the displaced Rohingya people as well as acceleration of its diplomatic efforts to repatriate them with dignity in Myanmar.
Since the very beginning of the emerging crisis, Bangladesh is making every effort to persuade the regional and global powers to end this crisis through an amicable solution, despite the position of China and India on the side of Myanmar on the Rohingya issue. We have noticed both countries have strategic and economic interests in Myanmar for which they have been reluctant to criticise the ruling regime. Even Russia seems compassionate towards Myanmar on this issue.
The Bangladesh government has experienced hardships for months in its diplomatic effort to persuade Myanmar to repatriate the refugees. However, the reality suggests that the Bangladesh government may not succeed in sending all of them back in a single go, even with the best diplomatic efforts. Therefore, we might have to think of some long-term solutions to deal with this additional population in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh presently feels that the genuine answer for the Rohingya emergency is the repatriation of the refugees in a planned and humane way. Since a permanent refugee population is unhealthy for Bangladeshi people, its democratic government has been working to bring an end to this problem keeping the humanitarian concerns in mind.
As Bangladesh and India have continued to consolidate their political, economic, trade and cultural relations as well as have built a comprehensive institutional framework to promote bilateral cooperation over the decades, India must come forward to join hands with the Bangladesh government for swift repatriation of Rohingya refugees. We also expect China to stand beside Bangladesh in resolving this prolonged crisis.
So from the earliest starting point, Bangladesh has been attempting to keep the repatriation issue on the international agenda. Throughout the previous one year, Bangladesh's top leader Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been working to find a solution for the Rohingya emergency and trying to present the issue to the international community to keep 'Rohingya repatriation' a high priority. It must be ensured that the repatriation process continues regardless of any change of administration in Myanmar, as is the case at present, following the military coup that ousted the Suu Kyi government.
The UN, at the same time, must enforce the recommendation of the Annan Commission by applying diplomatic pressure on Myanmar. The UN Security Council should initiate a visit to the Rohingya refugee camps as well as force the government of Myanmar to set up 'safe zones' for people of all backgrounds in conflict-torn parts of Myanmar, as proposed by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. For the sake of humanity, the international community must take due steps immediately for the peaceful and dignified repatriation of the Rohingyas for the greater interest of peace and tranquility in the region.
Dr. Mohammad Tarikul Islam is an Associate Professor of the Department of Government and Politics at Jahangirnagar University in Bangladesh. He has been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.