THE plight of Rohingya refugee children has shocked the world but did not prompt the international community to mount effective pressure on Myanmar to stop genocide. Since August 25, when the latest atrocities against the community began, 2,00,000 Rohingya children have been at risk. According to UNICEF, about 52,500 Rohingya children aged between 4 and 14 years fled to Bangladesh, as New Age reported on Wednesday. Children born in the camps are spending night under the open sky. Eighty per cent of the refugees from Rakhine States are women and children. Several media have also reported on the vulnerabilities of adolescent, young girls in the camps. International and national aid workers have expressed concern about the psychological state of Rohingya children in the camps that they are severely traumatised from the crude violence they have experienced. They said that children and adolescents who lost all that was familiar — home, family, friends, stability — were one of the ominous pointer to the impact of humanitarian crisis on individual lives. In the situation, the support of humanitarian organisations in the form of food, temporary shelter and medical supplies is a welcome move, but not enough. International agencies such as UNICEF, the UNHCR and the like must work to pressure the Myanmar government that imposed a warlike situation on the unarmed Rohingyas.
Unaccompanied children who entered Bangladesh fleeing violence and persecution, including killing, torture and arson in their homeland are now faced with an uncertain future. In this context, Bangladesh has taken on itself responsibilities of providing the Rohingyas with shelters until a congenial atmosphere is restored to Rakhaine State for them to return. However, to create a congenial environment, the international community must force Myanmar to stop the military atrocities on its unarmed population. The neighbouring states, especially India and China, are backing Myanmar considering their geopolitical interest. India wants Myanmar on its side by going into a total denial of the Rohingya genocide because it needs Myanmar in its fight against secessionist movements in Seven Sisters. China’s tacit support for Myanmar on the Rohingya issue, in all likelihood, results partly from its business and strategic interests in the area. Moreover, the statement of Kofi Anan issued on August 25, as the chair of the Commission of Rakhine State, is soft on the Myanmar army and equates the protracted violence of state security forces with the self-defence of the Rohingyas. Therefore, the international community must abandon its superficial approach, consider it criminal offence and mount effective diplomatic pressure on Myanmar.
The role of United Nation and its affiliated oragnisations is largely limited to mobilising aid and attending to the humanitarian support. The western states that do not have any direct geopolitical interest in the region are condemning the act at a rhetorical level. It is time that the international community took Myanmar to task for its crime against humanity.
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