Chased by the authorities in Myanmar, Rohingyas continue to cross the border into Bangladesh. The Bangladesh authorities are at a loss in dealing with this inflow. Providing shelter to the Rohingyas and arranging their repatriation is in a state of mess. Certain quarters are taking advantage of this situation to make a business out of providing shelter to the Rohingyas. They are making a quick buck out of the Rohingyas’ misery.
The crisis is two-fold. The Rohingyas are oppressed and thrown out of their country and it would be inhuman to turn them away. At the same time it is difficult to decide how to accommodate those who have managed to make their difficult trek over into Bangladesh. The government has taken a ‘wait and see’ attitude, while the UNHCR looks towards the government. But life doesn’t remain on hold.
Monday’s Prothom Alo reported that certain quarters in Teknaf and Ukhia of Cox’s Bazar have been setting up houses on the forest department land and government-owned khas land and renting these out to the Rohingyas. These people are taking full advantage of the government’s inaction. The forest department has openly said they are unable to tackle the situation. The onus now lies on the home ministry.
The government records list only 37 thousand Rohingyas living in Bangladesh, but unofficial sources put this number at over 500 thousand. The failure to enlist them and settle them in one area is not only creating socio-politico-economic problems, but will also make their repatriation difficult. If the government does not register them with their photographs and other details and arrange for their shelter to monitor where they are staying, the situation will grow complicated. The Rohingyas from Myanmar will mix and merge with the mainstream Bangladeshi population and it will be impossible to identify them. This will only aid and abet the driving out of the Rohingyas from Myanmar, and, it will be a difficult task to send the Rohingyas back home if the situation improves or some sort of international agreement is reached in future.
Making money out of the misery of these hapless people, in the name of providing them shelter, must be stopped. It is the government that must provide shelter to those who have managed to make their way over the border into Bangladesh. If the government just sits back and does nothing, it is both the Rohingyas and Bangladesh who will have to pay the price.