A lack of formal education in the Rohingya refugee camps leave children and youths there susceptible to radicalisation, the International Crisis Group (ICG) has said.
The independent organisation working to prevent wars and shape policies to build a more peaceful world, said Bangladesh should also lift its ban on formal education in the camps, adding that informal private “tuitions” held in private dwellings and networks of madrasas that only teach the Quran do not adequately fill the formal education gap.
In its latest briefing titled “Building a Better Future for Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh” released yesterday, ICG said no evidence has emerged of these madrasas promoting violence or intolerance among children, or of indoctrination or recruitment by local or transnational jihadists. However, a policy of denying young people formal education and leaving them reliant on unregulated madrasas almost certainly increases the risks of such groups gaining a foothold in the camps.
Already, the Chattogram-based Islamist movement Hefazat-e-Islam -- which has publicly called for jihad against Myanmar -- has considerable influence over the madrasa network in the camps, through the funding and religious scholars that it provides, it added.
The ICG brief said with no near-term prospect of returning to Myanmar, almost a million Rohingya refugees in camps in Cox’s Bazar face an uncertain future. Although an impressive aid operation has stabilised the humanitarian situation, attention must now turn to refugees’ lives and future prospects, in particular improved law and order and education for children.
As evening draws in and humanitarian workers withdraw to their bases in Cox’s Bazar town, security is in the hands of untrained and unarmed night watchmen appointed from among refugees, it added.
Saying that a determined and often violent struggle is currently underway for de facto control of the camps, ICG suggested that Bangladesh institute an effective police presence in the camps and bring perpetrators of crimes to justice.