Five years have elapsed since the persecuted Rohingya people from Myanmar entered Bangladesh on August 25, 2017.
On August 25, 2017, Myanmar's military launched a ferocious crackdown against the country's Rohingya Muslim population, driving more than 740,000 refugees into neighbouring Bangladesh.
Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar is a town that has changed in the last five years. There is no way to understand that these places were once surrounded by mountains and forests.
The Bangladesh government handed over a list of 5,98,319 Rohingyas to the Myanmar government for repatriation, but the Myanmar government has given permission to repatriate only 10,704 of them.
But even after three and a half years of receiving this clearance, not a single Rohingya refugee has been taken back by the Myanmar government.
Although the date was set to start the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar two times, the repatriation initiatives completely failed due to the reluctance of the Myanmar government.
Despite various initiatives taken by the Bangladesh government to repatriate them to Myanmar, it is not possible due to various complications. All in all, the door to Rohingya repatriation is almost strained.
Speakers at a virtual press conference organised by Cox's Bazar CSO-NGO Forum (CCNF) on the occasion of five years of the Rohingya arrival on Wednesday said many children were born during this time. There are also young people. It is estimated that there are 500,000 children and young Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar Rohingya camps, which is 40 to 50 percent of the total Rohingya population.
This large number of Rohingyas should be brought up-to-date through proper education and skilled work so that they can go to Myanmar and be used as manpower. Most importantly, they added, the Rohingyas must be returned in dignity.
At the press conference, the speaker said that in 2017, due to internal problems in Myanmar, persecution of Rohingyas started. At that time, Rohingyas came to Bangladesh to save their lives. The first impact is on the environment. Trees have been cut down and destroyed. Now the underground water level has also gone down by 5 to 9 meters.
On Tuesday, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said the support from the international community has been and is crucial in delivering lifesaving protection and assistance services for Rohingya refugees, but funding is well short of what is needed.
For the almost one million stateless Rohingya refugees, conditions in Bangladesh are extremely overcrowded, and they remain fully dependent on humanitarian assistance for their survival. With decreased funding, they face many challenges in their daily lives.
Multiple humanitarian assessment surveys have found that the most commonly unmet needs include proper nutrition, shelter materials, sanitation facilities, and livelihood opportunities. Some have resorted to dangerous boat journeys to seek a better future.
"Together, the international community must do more to ensure that the Rohingya do not continue to languish in displacement and redouble efforts for increased political dialogue and diplomatic engagement to create conditions for a voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return," UNHCR said.
Five years later, many Rohingya refugees have told UNHCR they wish to return home to Myanmar so long as conditions for safe, dignified, and sustainable returns are met and they can enjoy freedom of movement, access to documentation, and a pathway to citizenship, as well as access to services and income-generating activities.