World leaders should make Myanmar resolve Rohingya crisis

Published at 12:00am on October 24, 2020

THE call that the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and some UN agencies put forth again, in a virtual conference on Thursday, for Myanmar for action geared towards a permanent resolution of the Rohingya crisis by way of a sustainable repatriation of more than one million of the community who are now sheltered in Bangladesh after they fled violence in their native land of Rakhine is welcome, as much for the Rohingyas as for Bangladesh. Some 860,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and the elderly, entered Bangladesh fleeing murder, arson and rape during security operations by Myanmar’s military in Rakhine beginning in August 2017, when the latest spate of violence began, to join some others having already lived here since the late 1970s, taking the total number of the Rohingyas to more than 1.1 million, as estimates of both the United Nations and the Bangladesh foreign ministry say. While Bangladesh authorities have, to the best of their ability, stood by the Rohingyas, who ran into one of the gravest international refugee problems, the Rohingya refugee management now appears to have been mired in a declining international financial support, which prompted the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the UN Refugee Agency to host the conference for relief efforts for the Rohingyas and the hosts.

While all this has strained the whole of the refugee management issue, the process of the repatriation of the Rohingyas to Rakhine has also been left unattended for some time because of Myanmar, which has resorted to various means such as a near discontinuation of the clearance for refugees to get back to their homeland and an unwillingness to meet the bilateral joint working group and the tripartite mechanism that is led by China. There has also been a call in the conference for efforts to ensure the accountability of the military brutality of Myanmar and justice for the Rohingyas. Vietnam, which is the current chair of ASEAN, has, therefore, urged all stakeholders to attend to the root cause of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar for a sustainable solution to the humanitarian crisis which is essential for regional stability. Bangladesh, which affirms that the Rohingyas are in Bangladesh on a temporary basis, has said that there is a lack of decisive action on part of Myanmar to take them back amidst the culture of appeasement as many countries are bilaterally engaged with Myanmar. Bangladesh’s proposition appears to be true as after much of dithering about the issue, the international community has started talking about a resolution of the crisis of the Rohingyas and their sustainable repatriation in a graceful manner on a voluntary basis. But the world leaders do not also appear to have been bold enough to mount pressure on Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas.

In such a situation, while the international community should come forward with the financial support needed, already committed and yet to be committed, for the Rohingya refugee management in Bangladesh, they should also be bold enough to decisively work to mount pressure on Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas, who fled their homeland because of the violence that the Myanmar military, which is still reported to be creating a fearful situation in Rakhine, carried out against them.