The Rohingya issue is currently one of the most important international issues. More than 1.1 million Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017 due to genocide and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Approximately 50,000 Rohingya newborns are added to the refugee population each year.
The Rohingya have been victims of systematic discrimination, denial of the right to vote and regularly targeted violence in Myanmar for decades. They had to come to Myanmar for their lives after being subjected to extremely inhuman treatment by the military; but their situation in Bangladesh became a source of concern as some of them were found to be involved in drug trafficking, child trafficking, smuggling and other mischief. Some Rohingya have even been accused of being involved in militant activities and the recent attack on Ramu.
According to various sources, there are around four lakhs of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and around one lakh outside the country, particularly in the Middle East. In addition, there are reports that underage children in various camps in Cox’s Bazar are getting married. Child marriage is a threat to the health of the mother as well as the health of the child. It has far-reaching adverse effects on women. Teenage pregnancy can lead to a variety of health problems, including complications during childbirth. In some cases, they are also victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and marital rape. In addition, the increase in population density has a devastating effect on the environment.
Over the past four and a half years, despite various initiatives, no real progress has been made in resolving the Rohingya crisis. Under pressure from the international community, the Myanmar government signed an agreement on the repatriation of the Rohingya, but without consequence. According to the agreement, the Rohingya were to be repatriated in stages. The repatriation process has not started even after a long time. Bangladesh has repeatedly urged various international forums to take effective action to resolve the Rohingya crisis. During the United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina not only called on the international community to repatriate the Rohingya, but also presented six specific proposals. The Prime Minister also raised the issue during his recent visit to France. In such a situation, the UN committee unanimously adopted a resolution urging Myanmar to end the Rohingya crisis. More importantly, Russia and China did not oppose the proposal. The resolution, presented by the OIC and the European Union, was unanimously adopted by the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee, known as the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abdul Momen considers support from Russia and China to be important. He said that China and Russia also want a solution to the Rohingya problem. This is good news for us.
The proposal is based on the human rights situation of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in the context of the state of emergency in Myanmar. Senior Myanmar politicians have been arrested after a military coup overthrew a democratic government in the country on February 1 and declared a state of emergency. Political unrest, protests and clashes continue in the country. Thousands of people have lost their lives in the army crackdown. Whatever the context, the unanimous resolution adopted by the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly is very important to Bangladesh, with 108 countries supporting it. The proposal calls for finding out the root cause of the Rohingya problem. At the same time, he calls for the implementation of the bilateral agreement signed by Myanmar with Bangladesh. The resolution, along with a number of guidelines for the introduction of democratic governance, called on all human rights organizations, including the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Myanmar, to cooperate.
On the issue, the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN, Rabab Fatima, said: “This is the first time that the Rohingya resolution has been unanimously adopted by the UN. This reflects the strong commitment of the international community to resolve the crisis. This will inspire new hope in the minds of the displaced Rohingya. The Rohingya have become a serious security threat in Bangladesh. Adopting the proposal would put pressure on Myanmar to repatriate the Rohingya, according to the foreign minister. Our hope is that the Rohingya repatriation process will begin soon under this pressure. Bangladesh will also be spared from this deadly crisis.
This is the first time since the start of the crisis in 2017 that a resolution on the Rohingya has been unanimously adopted by the United Nations. Observers say the UN’s recognition is a reflection of the international community’s strong commitment to resolving the crisis. In addition to the EU and the OIC, the resolution is supported and co-sponsored by a large number of countries in various geographic regions, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Japan and South Korea. .
However, the added responsibility of this large number of people is certainly a big burden for Bangladesh. Frustration among the Rohingya is also escalating over the lack of progress on repatriation, which is creating various security concerns and instability in the region. There have already been killings in the Rohingya camps. Social ills are multiplying there. The administration must always monitor the public order situation in the camps. We hope that this crisis will be resolved soon. A political solution to the Rohingya issue is essential for lasting peace, stability and security in the region. Our bilateral relations with Myanmar are deteriorating due to non-repatriation. The regional crisis is also worsening. The inhabitants suffer from various problems due to the Rohingya. The only way to resolve the crisis is to return the Rohingya to Myanmar as soon as possible.
Only constant pressure from the international community can force Myanmar to repatriate the displaced Rohingya. The diplomatic process of the international community must be continued to put pressure on Myanmar to begin repatriation.
—The writer holds a master’s degree in international relations from Dhaka University