The Rohingya Diaspora In Bangladesh

The politically persecuted Rohingya heralding from the Burmese nation state have sought refuge in neighboring countries, particularly that of Bangladesh, though escape from brutality is not akin to  escape from hardship- as survival in a foreign land proves beyond difficult. Briefly, the Rohingya officially became a stateless people in 1982 following their inability to prove and ascertain citizenship in the face of rigid citizenship laws which were decisively ignorant of the socio-political fabric of the country and its historical underpinnings. The genesis of the Rohingya displacement can be traced back 20 years prior, in 1962, when following ‘military coup they were granted foreign identity cards.’

The upshot of the situation generally for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh is that Bangladeshi authorities and the government alike appear, to an extent, understanding of their plight and sensitive to the political climate of the Rakhine state. Further and most pivotally, the recent decision of the Asian Development Bank to inject a $100 million grant targeted towards the amelioration of conditions in densely populated Rohingya refugee camps so as to ‘rehabilitate roads within the camps to food distribution and storage centers, hospitals, school and improve access,’ serves as a promising step ensuring future progress for this persecuted minority. It is also worthy to note that the Bangladeshi government has committed to ‘provide an additional $20 million for towards the improvements.’  On a more grassroots level, it is important to note that in light of the recent upsurge in violent killings in the refugee camps that  ‘Bangladesh has deployed thousands of extra police to Rohingya refugee camps in the south’ in order to ease the fear and paranoia permeating the climate of the camps. And thus ensuring civil law and order.

This strong commitment to improving conditions for the Rohingya diaspora in refugee camps not only ensures progress but protects against untimely and uncalled for deaths arising from the contraction of life-threatening illness, starvation, and the like. In fact risks to health due to ‘water borne diseases, such as diarrhea and hepatitis, and vector diseases, including malaria, dengue’  are the more pressing concerns, endangering the safety of thousands, particularly given the climate of Bangladesh. Whilst repatriation is an issue, whether such actualizes and too what extent remain tenuous, especially given that fact that ‘Rohingya community leaders have rejected [the] agreement between the United Nations and the government of Myanmar for the return of refugees who have fled the Rakhine state.’

Currently, official figures estimate that around 700,000 Rohingya reside in Bangladeshi refugee camps. The extremity of the violence faced by the Rohingya in Burma, with brutal rapes and severe violence being inflicted upon the Rohingya without mercy has promulgated the movement of such large numbers across borders.

The socio-political climate of the Rakhine climate, the mass persecution and targeting of the Rohingya by the military is a matter that appears to be unresolvable. Precisely how this trend of mass violence, brutality, and bloodshed will come to an end is a matter that hangs in limbo. Regional peace and security, and in particular the Rohingya situation remains at risk. Though, the strides to be made in Bangladesh appear strongly promising and will heed the Rohingya diaspora well, right into the bright future that beckons for them outside the bounds of their home state, hopefully.

Nat Kumar