Lack of education and jobs could turn the Rohingya refugee camps into breeding ground for radicalisation, Norwegian Ambassador Sidsel Bleken said yesterday.
“No education, no work, no hope. It's a breeding ground for radicalisation. So, how to work about it needs to be looked at,” she said at a discussion on role of Bangladesh media on Rohingya crisis.
Lokkho News Presentation Academy organised the programme at The Daily Star's conference centre yesterday.
Sidsel Bleken said the Rohingya are vulnerable to human trafficking, adding that that it was important to look into what's happening in camps at night, and if they have adequate protection.
Speakers said while the Bangladeshi media has done a good job in sensitising the people of Bangladesh as well globally, it is important to keep reporting the crisis on a regular basis – on the ground and at a global level.
Charlotta Schylter, Swedish ambassador to Bangladesh, said political support needs to be stepped up so that Myanmar creates conducive conditions for return of the Rohingya.
“We will continue to stand by Bangladesh in this regard. It's responsibility of the world,” she said.
Syed Shahnawaj Mohsin, political and economic adviser at the Canadian High Commission in Dhaka, said accountability is a vital aspect of the Rohingya crisis, and effective media coverage can be a useful tool to ensure it.
Rahul Raha, head of news at Channel 24, said there are chances that national elections in the country this year will distract media attention from the Rohingya crisis, but media must not shift its focus from it.
“We need to sensitise the international community for it to keep pressure on Myanmar,” he said.
Dhaka University's professor of journalism Abul Mansur, Daily Ittefaq's diplomatic correspondent Mainul Alam, UN Refugee Agency Protection Officer Vincent Gule, its spokesperson Joseph Surja, and Lokkho News Presentation Academy CEO Raisul H Chowdhury also spoke at the event, moderated by journalist Morshed Hassib Hasan.
Over 700,000 members of the Rohingya community have fled brutal military campaign in Myanmar's Rakhine state since August last year to seek refuge in Bangladesh. Amid global pressure, Myanmar has signed deals with Bangladesh, as well as with UN Refugee Agency and UNDP, for repatriation of the displaced.
However, conditions for their return to Rakhine state are not yet conducive. Rohingya refugees want guarantee of citizenship in Myanmar, return to their original homes and not to the camps, as well as ensured security under the UN arrangement in Rakhine before the repatriation to happen.
Despite global condemnation for atrocities against the Rohingya, the UN Security Council has not taken any concrete step to address the decades-old crisis that has reached its peak with the recent violence.
Meanwhile, over a million Rohingya living in Cox's Bazar, including some 300,000 who had already been living there, have created socio-economic and environmental challenges for Bangladesh. With the monsoon, some 200,000 Rohingyas are now at risk of landslides and flooding. About 60 percent of the Rohingyas are children, most of whom do not have access to formal education.