Bangladesh today hosts the biggest refugee camp in the world. It became so suddenly and brutally. The flow of refugees was not a trickle but like a monsoon flood. Unlike many countries of the world, we rose to the occasion. It was with the warmest of hearts and deepest empathy for human suffering that we welcomed nearly a million Rohingya refugees. That warmth of heart is on the wane though our empathy remains just as deep. This change came gradually as we saw no end to the problem in sight. The latest instance of the mockery of an exercise at repatriation came as a rude shock. Anybody with the slightest of knowledge of the ground reality appears to have known that it would not work and yet all went through the ritual as if it was a game.
Why is the world silent about the genocide of the Rohingya people? Why the wholesale removal of nearly a million Rohingyas from their homes and throwing them out of their country not a matter of greater international attention? Why the recommendations of Kofi Annan Commission are not reflected more on the UN's agenda?
The role of our close friends has been quite disappointing. Everybody appears to be playing their strategic game while the biggest influx of refugees in recent times, with all its resultant problems, remains fundamentally unattended.
Don't let Bangladesh suffer just because we followed international norms and was an exemplary member of the international community. Why is Myanmar being treated with kid gloves, as if telling the brutal truth to their face is a big breach of international norms. What shocks us most is the muted nature of international and regional condemnation for what Myanmar has done and is still doing.
With this multimedia presentation we have tried to present a full picture of the evolution and the current status of the Rohingya problem. We hope that the international community will renew their effort to solve this great humanitarian crisis with new vigour, political commitment and adequate financial resource.
The world will never find the people of Bangladesh wanting.
Cost of being a generous host
Two years into the exodus of Rohingya refugees, who were given shelter in Bangladesh after they fled atrocities in Rakhine State of Myanmar, the extent of how 743,000 refugees affected the host country has become a matter of grave concern.
In 27 camps, close to one million helpless people, including those who arrived after fresh violence since August 2017, may have found some safety for now in Ukhiya and Teknaf of Cox's Bazar, but the consequence of such sudden influx has turned out to be catastrophic.
Attempts have been made twice to repatriate some Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, but the attempts failed as the Rohingyas refused to return without guarantee of citizenship, safety in Rakhine state, freedom of movement, recognition of their ethnicity and return to their original homes, not to camps, to which Myanmar has made no commitments.
The overall impact on the lives of the host communities as well as on the environment, life and law and order is alarming. Forests have been razed, hills destroyed, wildlife threatened while crimes have increased.
Meanwhile, the fate of the persecuted community still hangs by a thread -- between a bleak, uncertain future and hope for a better life in their homeland.
A total of 4,300 acres of hills and forests including The forests include Teknaf Wildlife Sanctuary, Himchhari National Park and Inani National Park, were razed to make temporary shelters, facilities and cooking fuel in Ukhia and Teknaf
A total of 1,485 hectares of forest land under Ukhia, Whykong and Teknaf ranges has been encroached upon for collecting firewood
More land will be degraded if the collection of firewood continues, says UNDP
26,600 hectares of the 60,000 hectares of forest land in Cox's Bazar at risk of degradation
Law and Order
Crimes, from petty thefts to drug peddling, abduction to murder, have become a commonplace in the refugee camps
At least 31 people have been killed allegedly by fellow Rohingyas in the camps
At least 55 Rohingyas were arrested in connection with murders
Many others abducted for ransom
Clashes among Rohingyas take place often over establishing supremacy in the camps
At least 10 Rohingyas, including alleged yaba peddlers and robbers, were killed in separate incidents of “gunfight” with law enforcers
Criminal activities including drug and yaba dealing, murders, abductions are on the rise in the areas where refugee camps are located
At least 328 cases have been filed against over 700 Rohingyas over various crimes since August 2017
Bangladesh authorities have deployed over 2,000 policemen in the camps
Yaba smuggling and drug dealing are on the rise since the exodus began in August 2017
Over 20 Rohingyas, including women, have so far been held with yaba, hemp
Law enforcers have made numerous yaba hauls during separate drives in Cox’s Bazar region
Local drug lords are involved in syndicates that exploit Rohingyas for smuggling yaba
Gangs under transnational human trafficking syndicates operate from Teknaf to send the Rohingyas to different destinations via sea routes
Over 130 Rohingyas were rescued by law enforcers from being trafficked from the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in separate drives recently
Traffickers exploit Rohingya men, women, and children from refugee camps for both sex and labour trafficking, including domestic servitude, says a US report
Traffickers defraud and coerce Rohingya women and girls from refugee camps into sex trafficking through fraudulent job or marriage proposals, and abduction
Trafficking destinations include Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Middle East
Rohingya girls are also being exploited in child sex tourism in Cox’s Bazar and elsewhere