The coming of the forcefully displaced Rohingyas to Bangladesh has not stopped. Every day they are crossing the international border for safety.
It is only natural that people when are subjected to systematic murder, rape and arson by the organised forces of the government of a country will seek shelter in other countries for safety and security. We have also faced similar kind of situation in 1971 during the War of Liberation when about 10 million people crossed over to India in the face of genocide perpetuated by the Pakistani forces. The current influx of Rohingyas has already crossed more than 600000. It is reported that close to 500000 Rohingyas are already there in Bangladesh for quite sometimes. They also came earlier in the face of atrocities committed by the Myanmar security forces at different points of time in the last two decades. They are continuing to stay in Bangladesh. But their continued influx and longer time stay in the country poses a number of challenges and threats particularly to Bangladesh and its people. The local community where they are being sheltered (Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf region) have already become minorities compared to the sheltered Rohingya population. Their sheer number is taking toll on the lives and livelihoods of the local population.
These are already manifested in the form of price hike, downward trend in employment opportunities and extreme pressure on the service providing agencies both government and non-government. It has been also reported that the local boys and particularly girls are increasingly finding it difficult in attending schools and other educational institutions for perceived lack of security and their institutions are being used for different purposes for the benefits of the displaced Rohingyas. Some incidences of breech of law and order and crimes against local people by the Rohingyas have already been registered. For this reason, sheltered Rohingyas also pose a threat to the growing tourism industry in the said region. The region might become prone to different types of crimes.
In the past, the displaced Rohingyas with the help of some unscrupulous elements of Bangladesh society managed to obtain Bangladesh passport and went to many particularly Middle-Eastern countries as expatriate workers. It was found that they committed various crimes there and as they were holding Bangladesh passport our nationals as a whole were blamed for those crimes and misconduct of severe nature. For these reasons, Bangladesh as a human resource exporting country had to pay a considerable price. For many years, many of those countries stopped recruiting workers from Bangladesh. This has negatively impacted our economy and is reducing the possibilities of receiving more remittances from abroad.
Besides, delayed repatriation might lead to rise in militancy among the Rohingyas. Here it may be noted that the Rohingya insurgency has been there in Myanmar for long. In the last decade of the past century, Rohingya Solidarity Organisation led the insurgency movement. Later, a new insurgent group, Harakah-al-Yaqin emerged and engaged in insurgency activities inside Myanmar. In 2016, violence started again causing a number of deaths. International media reported that at the end of August 2017, the insurgents launched coordinated attacks on 24 police posts and the army base in the Rakhine State. This sparked the current drive against the Rohingyas by the Myanmar military resulting in indiscriminate killing and crimes against the unarmed civilian population leading to ethnic cleansing and genocide. Now it is alleged that international terror organisations and some countries known for such kinds of activities have become involved with the Rohingya insurgents. Here it should be noted with caution that the target of these international terror elements is not only Myanmar but more importantly Bangladesh and the region. They want to create anarchy within Bangladesh and make it a failed state to realise their evil designs. If Bangladesh falls prey to this trap then the whole region that includes countries like India, China and Myanmar will be engulfed in chaos and anarchy. Such a situation will thwart the ongoing process of socio-economic development of the region. As such, there is important stakes for the regional countries for immediate voluntary repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homeland, Myanmar. In the face of above realities, forcefully displaced and sheltered Rohingyas pose a number of threats particularly to Bangladesh as it is the front line state of the crisis. To end the crisis, Bangladesh needs to pursue a vigorous and relentless proactive diplomacy to exert pressure on the Myanmar government to immediately take back their people. The United Nations also needs to play a constructive and decisive role in this regard. It should not be only limited to the call for international relief operation and assistance to the displaced Rohingyas. The world community, especially the countries those matter in the global politics also need to get actively involved in solving the Rohingya crisis. If we all fail to do so, then there is the likelihood that another trouble spot might be created that may hamper global peace and harmony.
(The different sources of information are acknowledged with gratitude)
The writer is the Professor and Chairman, Department of Public Administration, University of Dhaka And Member, National Human Rights Commission, Bangladesh