Five years after the largest influx of Rohingya refugees into camps in Bangladesh, there has been little progress in the bilateral effort with Myanmar to send them back to their homelands. Since none of the 1.1 million Rohingya could be brought back under the initiative taken by the two neighbors in 2018, Bangladesh has repeatedly requested assistance from the international community, including the UN.
The authorities in Bangladesh believe that the situation of the Rohingya refugees can be resolved through their safe, dignified, voluntary and long-term return to Rakhine, Myanmar, where they were born and raised. Although more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled the violence of Myanmar’s security forces to take refuge in Bangladesh since August 2017, adding to the 350,000 who have already lived here since the late 1970s and are currently protected in camps in Cox’s Bazar and on the island of Bhasan Char, their repatriation has made little progress. The birth of 120,000 children, according to the Minister of State for Disaster Management and Relief, led to an increase in the number of Rohingya in Bangladesh after the 2017 influx.
In order to raise awareness and lobby for their demands, which include their immediate repatriation, the application of the global political commitment of the responsibility to protect before their repatriation and the repeal of the Citizenship Act of 1982 in Myanmar, the Rohingyas have recently launched a drive home campaign in the Cox’s Bazar camps. The Rohingya protest for World Refugee Day was the largest since 2019, when more than 100,000 Rohingyas turned out for a program to demand accountability for atrocities against them and a safe return home.
The failure of Rohingya repatriation efforts has been widely attributed to the Myanmar government’s refusal to establish conditions in Rakhine that would encourage their voluntary and sustainable return.
As the Myanmar government continued to instill terror in Rakhine State in an effort to block and, it seems, avert the process, bilateral efforts to repatriate the Rohingyas have rarely been successful. And not a single Rohingya could be returned to Rakhine because they would not return without assurances of their safety and citizenship. Bangladesh has registered 876,000 Rohingya for repatriation, but only 35,000 of them have had their identity confirmed by Myanmar, and the country has not indicated when the repatriation process will begin.
Although bilateral efforts have failed, regional, global and international fora – including the United Nations and its refugee agency – have also failed on the Rohingya by not exerting enough pressure on Myanmar to accept the Rohingya in a dignified and secure manner. The drive home campaign was launched by Rohingya living in Kutupalong and Teknaf camps in Cox’s Bazar because they believed the UN and international community had not done enough to pressure the authorities in the country. Myanmar to grant them their citizenship rights and repatriate them. their. Like the Bangladeshi government, the Rohingya believe their repatriation is the only way to end their agony.
During previous Rohingya influxes into Bangladesh in the 1970s and 1990s, and their voluntary repatriation by Myanmar through agreements and understandings with Bangladesh, Myanmar took them back because they were then subject to Western sanctions, which is no longer the case today.
The UK and other Western countries continue to make significant investments in Myanmar despite evidence of the country’s persecution of Rohingya and ICJ rulings upholding their justice (International Court of Justice).
The world, including the UK, must pressure the Myanmar government to return its Rohingya citizens, as it has invested $2.5 billion in Myanmar over the past three years and has more than 500 million dollars in bilateral trade.
The world should step up pressure on Myanmar for the immediate repatriation of Rohingya from Bangladesh as it cannot continue to bear the burden of 1.1 million displaced Burmese nationals. World leaders must pressure Myanmar to bring back its nationals, the persecuted Rohingya who fled a military crackdown to seek refuge in Bangladesh. Bangladesh cannot solve the problem [Rohingya] only problem, and the international community should put more pressure on Myanmar to solve it.
Dieng stressed the need for a peaceful repatriation of Rohingyas with the dignity and safety necessary for a permanent solution to the crisis.
The global community, which seems more concerned about refugees and the displacement of populations from western countries, and regional forums, which seem passive in resolving the Rohingya crisis, must step up their efforts and ensure that the issue of Rohingya repatriation equal attention as bilateral attempts to repatriate the Rohingya, considered the most persecuted community in the world, must continue.
Dr Arpita Hazarika is a researcher based at Gauhati University, Assam, India. She has a keen interest in refugee affairs, political economy, security and strategic affairs, foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region. She has visited a number of countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, UK, USA, France, Japan, Australia, Thailand , Singapore and Canada. She has research work on India-Bangladesh affairs.