Civil society groups have called on the international community to redouble pressure on Myanmar for Rohingya repatriation, which is the ultimate solution to the crisis.
They also urged all stakeholders to ensure human dignity of the Rohingyas and social cohesion until repatriation from Bangladesh, where some one million Rohingyas took shelter fleeing violence in Rakhine State, mostly in 2017.
The call came at a webinar organised by Cox’s Bazar CSO-NGO Forum (CCNF), a network of 50 NGOs working in Cox’s Bazar, marking World Refugee Day yesterday, at a time when Myanmar is facing political crisis since the military coup in February.
Many are worried that the repatriation process could now linger even further, and this puts further pressure on Bangladesh, especially due to the pandemic that has pushed millions of people below poverty line with loss of businesses and jobs.
“International actors should not be only be limited to humanitarian assistance. They should redouble their effort and create pressure on Myanmar for Rohingya repatriation,” said CCNF co-chair Abu Murshed Chowdhury.
Myanmar bears the main responsibility for creating conducive conditions in Rakhine state and ensuring sustainable repatriation of Rohingyas, and the international community must hold it accountable for this, he said.
He also suggested that along with the UN and states, there are also scopes for the civil society to engage in track-two diplomacy.
COAST Trust Executive Director Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said as fund for the Rohingya is decreasing, it is imperative to think of maximum services with minimum expenditure.
He suggested that the authorities ensure aid transparency, localisation of aid and third-country relocation of the Rohingyas, possibly in the neighbouring countries.
Abul Kashem, executive director of HELP Cox’s Bazar, said locals in Cox’s Bazar are facing water crisis as underground water level has gone down with the excessive pumping of it for supplying to Rohingya camps. Also, widespread plastic use in the camps is causing huge environmental problems.
Shireen Huq of Naripokkho said local people and local organisations were the very first responders, but that is why localisation of aid is a rational demand.
“Unfortunately, we can see very little development in ensuring localisation,” she said.
Soo Jin Rhee, Deputy Representative of UNHCR Bangladesh, said it is unfortunate that during last 10 years, the number of refugees has doubled in Bangladesh.
“The generosity of Bangladesh government and sacrifice of the local people is praiseworthy. We now need to ensure dignity of the Rohingya people until the repatriation,”
Manuel Moniz Pereira of IOM said total dependency on humanitarian support is not a sustainable solution. Therefore, demand-based economic cooperation and communication between the Rohingya and host community needs to be promoted.