Untenable costs of hosting the Rohingyas
A roundtable organised jointly by The Daily Star and North South University titled "A roadmap for sustainable solutions to the Rohingya crisis" on September 24, brought together academia, members of civil society and security analysts. What has become abundantly clear is that, Bangladesh must spend USD 1.2 billion to support the million or so Rohingyas who have taken refuge in the country since 2017. Two repatriation attempts this year failed because the Rohingyas refused to go back without guarantees from the Myanmar government, which it has steadfastly refused to ensure.
We understand that the process of repatriation, which has not started yet, could take years to complete. And the longer this refugee population stays in Bangladesh, the greater will be the damage to the local environment and economy. Unfortunately, foreign funding has been waning of late and a paltry 38 percent of the USD 920 million needed to feed and house the Rohingya populace for the current fiscal has been committed by international agencies.
The sad reality is that Bangladesh's bilateral efforts in engaging Myanmar in constructive talks to repatriate its people has not borne fruit. There is greater need for active participation of the United Nations, China and ASEAN countries (Myanmar is part of ASEAN). Unless international efforts are made to convince Myanmar's leadership that prolonging the Rohingya crisis will create multidimensional threats whose effects will not be contained within the borders of Bangladesh only. The root point, citizenship and safety of the Rohingyas, need to be resolved now so that they may return home in dignity. A failure to do so could open up the door for extremist outfits to recruit and train this hapless population, which would then become a regional security problem affecting all of Bangladesh's neighbours.