On January 21, I was deep in thought remembering the difficult journey I made from Calcutta to Dacca all those years ago in January 1972. However, my continuing deep concern today is the continuing uncertain plans of repatriation to the Rakhine State of Myanmar of the Rohingya refugees.
The contrast between January 1972 and January 2022 cannot be more different or pronounced. The Bangladeshi refugees in 1972 wanted to return to their homes in Bangladesh. A certain number of relatives, friends, and neighbours were waiting to welcome them home. Even so, there was a degree of fear and uncertainty among the Bangladeshis regarding what they would find when they returned home. A village house burnt down, or a town house ransacked?
For the Rohingya refugees, there is far more uncertainty and fear. There are no declared guarantees. What about their rights to citizenship, security, shelter, food, health, education, and to be able to practice their own religion? If they agree to move to a “Temporary Transit Camp,” it might turn into a camp for “internally displaced” or a “concentration camp.” Who is going to guarantee what?
I remember clearly talking to a 55 year old Rohingya woman in October 2017, who said that with her journey to Cox’s Bazar in September 2017, it was the third time that she had come to Bangladesh as a refugee, and this time she was not thinking of going back! International bodies such as UNHCR and ICRC must be allowed to oversee the whole process from a legal and humanitarian point of view.
The government of Bangladesh has been remarkably patient, but now it is time to increase the pressure, not only on the government of Myanmar but, and very urgently, the international community. Even India and China, with close ties to Bangladesh, have done nothing to bring Myanmar to its senses and responsibilities.
However, returning to my memories of 50 years ago, I had been responsible, for many months, for coordinating the assistance for up to 600,000 Bangladeshis in over 50 refugee camps in the border areas of India, and I set off on January 20 1972 with an Oxfam Landover, and trailer laden with valuable medicine and high protein food for children. My driver, Badol Nandi, had come
May 18, 2022Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday said a good number of Rohingyas are coming to Bangladesh from India through fence areas in recent times, which he sees as a matter of concern. “Unfortunately, many Rohingyas are coming to Bangladesh from India,” he told reporters, adding that those Rohingyas went to India in 2012. […]
May 12, 2022