Why Myanmar-Bangladesh’s ‘Rohingya Pilot Return Project’ needs to be successful?
Posted on May 9th, 2023

John Rozario  Karnataka, India.

Recently, Bangladesh and Myanmar have launched a bilateral pilot project to repatriate the Rohingya. Myanmar has dedicated 15 villages to repatriating Rohingya refugees from Cox’s Bazar. Initially, Myanmar will take 1140 Rohingya. A Myanmar delegation has already visited the camps in Cox’s Bazar. But the initiative is facing harsh criticism from INGOs and NGOs such as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Human Rights Watch (HRW). NGOs are against such initiatives citing the situation in Myanmar.

A delegation of 17 members from Myanmar came to Bangladesh on March 15 to verify the information of the Rohingyas on that list. They returned after verifying the information of 480 Rohingyas enrolled in the repatriation pilot project. Then last Friday, a delegation of 27 members including 20 Rohingya went to visit Myanmar Rakhine State. They check whether the environment there is suitable for repatriation of Rohingyas. Returning to the country Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) in Bangladesh camps Md. Mizanur Rahman expressed satisfaction with the goodwill of Myanmar.

After the Rohingya delegation returned from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, there was a mixed reaction to the issue of repatriation to Rohingya camps. Many arguments are going on between those who support repatriation to the camp and those who are not interested in repatriation. Most of the Rohingyas claim that there is no opportunity for the Rohingyas to adopt a different path except repatriation.

According to media reports, regarding the speech of the members of the Rohingya delegation who visited Myanmar’s Rakhine state last Friday, the speech they presented in the media may be their personal opinion. Therefore, it cannot be accepted that the process of repatriation of Rohingyas will be stopped. Repatriation is the right of Rohingyas. If someone likes, they will go, if someone wants, they will not go, so it does not mean that all Rohingyas will not go. The Rohingyas will be repatriated if the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar want. Their statement is also clear about the claim collection. They are saying, first take the Rakhine land in Myanmar, then I will give all the demands from there. It will be much easier for the Rohingyas to stand on their homeland and claim their rights. Many people are passionate about the country. There are the graves of many relatives, mother and father. They have very little rights in Bangladesh camps either, they are somehow living in a floating life. The happiness of dying in one’s homeland is much greater than that. It should not their concern whether anyone will go or not, Rohingyas will return to Myanmar if they are called.

According to social media reports and ground information, ordinary Rohingyas in the camp in Cox’s Bazar want to return. They want to go to their homes at any cost. A large part of the Rohingya want to use the opportunity of repatriation. Only a particular group of Rohingyas who are enjoying various immoral facilities and abuse their position in the camps do not want to return. A part of the Rohingya supported by international organizations has also been added. It is known that the Rohingyas have taken a stand against the issue of repatriation in Rohingya camps in Ukhia and Teknaf. On May 5, a 20-member Rohingya delegation returned to Myanmar after inspecting the infrastructure prepared for the Rohingyas and expressed a negative attitude towards the repatriation of journalists. However, other Rohingyas in the camp are unwilling to support their attitude. A conscious section of the Rohingyas is expressing their reluctance to stay as refugees in Bangladesh. They decided to stir up interest among other Rohingya in the camp by campaigning to return to Myanmar.

Cox’s Bazar Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC). Mizanur Rahman said, we along with the Rohingyas have just come to see the villages and infrastructure prepared for the Rohingyas in Maungdoo, Myanmar and its surroundings. There will be further talks between the two countries, hopefully the repatriation process will progress.

The real place for Rohingyas is Arakan in Myanmar, not the Rohingya camp to make demands. Those who talk about citizenship, security and visas in terms of repatriation, are not really thinking about the Rohingyas. Even in Bangladesh they have no citizenship, no lands. The security that the Rohingyas once had from terrorists is now gone. So, if they can live without these things in this country, then why not in Myanmar? Myanmar will ensure maximum security for the repatriated Rohingyas. Because the eyes of the whole world will be on them. If any wrongdoing is done by taking the Rohingyas there, it will spread all over the world thanks to the internet. Rohingyas should go bak to their homeland Myanamr now as a whole population cannot spend years in another country in refuge from another situation. Rohingyas have the right to go back to their own nation, their own territory, and their own homes — where they can exercise all of their civil rights to strive toward constructing a better life and future for themselves and their offspring.

Currently no Rohingyas are safe in the camp. Each camp has its own criminal gangs. This is where the Rohingyas suffer the most insecurity. There is no guarantee of life in the camp now, who is shooting and running away from which side. Much more happiness if you can go to the country and taste the native land.

A section of the international community is playing politics with the Rohingyas in the camps in Cox’s Bazar. Due to this, their repatriation process is becoming difficult at times. Unfortunately, we are noticing that various international circles are doing their own style of politics with the Rohingyas. It is difficult to say how much these quarters will see the interests of Bangladesh, or the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas are expected to return to a slightly better environment than the environment from which they crossed the Myanmar border into Bangladesh. Because the state system of Myanmar will not change overnight. This may not change even in the next 10-20 years. While the junta is killing people day after day, the hope that the Rohingyas will be repatriated to a different status with full citizenship is simply not realistic. This is a harmful thought for the Rohingyas. It is now important to ensure the status they had earlier.

While Bangladesh and Myanmar are preparing their returnee lists and facilitating the repatriation, INGOs and NGOs are expressing concerns over the plan. They are mainly objecting that the environment in Rakhine is not conducive enough for any repatriation at this moment. They are also condemning the Junta and labeling the plan as an eye wash. Prominent INGOs and NGOs including UNHCR and HRW have already given statements clearing their stance on the plan. They want Bangladesh to halt the program. Burmese Rohingya Organization UK has also called the process a Public Relation rather than repatriation.

Perhaps, Junta’s controversial image are the prime reasons behind the stance of the NGOs concerned about the Rohingya. The Rohingyas should also think, if they do not start repatriation now or do not go, it will benefit Myanmar. Because, Myanmar always wants the Rohingyas not to come and they create various pressures for this. Myanmar wants the Rohingyas to say that the status is not created, the environment is not created and not to come. Now the repatriation process needs to be started to challenge Myanmar. It will not solve the problem if only one and a half thousand Rohingyas return. But Myanmar can be told that you have recognized your citizens, now take measures for the rest.

Myanmar’s interest in Rohingya repatriation has increased for a number of reasons. By exploiting this interest, Bangladesh should start the process of repatriating the Rohingyas. We are very optimistic about the repatriation of Rohingya this time. Because the Rohingya issue is a geopolitical equation. In the current military, political and economic situation in Myanmar, the integrity and ethnic unity of the Myanmar state is at great risk. Now if they want to make their state safe, they have to solve the Rohingya problem. The Rohingya problem was not created only because of Bangladesh and Myanmar. There are other parties involved in creating this crisis. If the reasons for creating this crisis are not met, then they will not play a role in solving the crisis. Now the cooperation of the third party, the international community, is needed in the matter of repatriation. Rohingyas should play a role in creating housing and other facilities. International pressure should also be applied. The more the international community can be kept active on behalf of Bangladesh to solve the problem, the more opportunities will be created to solve the problem. This opportunity should be used.

For more than two years now, Junta is administering the state of Myanmar. The international community and the great powers did little to pressurize the Junta to repatriate the Rohingya. Prior to Junta, the international community also failed to convince the democratic government to repatriate the Rohingya and bring the perpetrators to justice.

At this moment, Junta is formally in power, even though it faces a serious legitimacy crisis and resistance at home. But it is the only formal authority in Myanmar.

Bangladesh has been facing a refugee crisis for six years now. It has tried bilaterally, trilaterally, and multilaterally for the past six years for a viable solution. It has left no stone unturned, yet found nothing. Bangladesh eagerly wants to explore the initiative as something is better than nothing. Moreover, Bangladesh cannot remain indifferent to the Junta question. Owing to bilateral political, economic, connectivity, and economic issues, Bangladesh has to engage with the authority of Myanmar- that is Junta currently. 

While Bangladesh- the guardian of the Rohingya on the global stage is trying heart and soul to repatriate the Rohingya to their birthplace, the NGOs are not doing enough for the most persecuted community of our time. The UNHCR and other NGOs are only maintaining the camps. Due to other emerging crises and donor fatigue, these NGOs are also reducing their effort in every aspect after six years. Recently, WFP reduced its monthly per capita ration from only $12 to $10 citing fund shortage.

Advocacy networks such as HRW, and Amnesty International failed to create effective pressure on Myanmar. Like the NGOs, the Great powers also failed to pressurize Myanmar effectively. As a result, Bangladesh is carrying the burden alone. And Bangladesh, which did not see any result in the last six years cannot but explore the option. The declining fund, deteriorating camp conditions, growing insecurity, and adverse impact of the refugees on the host community have made Bangladesh a desperate host looking for reducing the burden, where its international partners are only performing their formal duties within a set boundary. This crisis is also destabilizing regional security. The Rohingya cannot consistently receive food, shelter, and medical care due to our limited economic capabilities. It is important to note that aid for the Rohingya is decreasing daily. The current Ukraine conflict has the entire world on edge. Although the world community has lost sight of the Rohingya humanitarian issue as a result of the war in Ukraine

Moreover, the ‘conducive environment’ debate is also a politically biased one. As the Junta is repatriating, it is guaranteeing their safety. The other stakeholders of Rakhine and Myanmar, the Arakan Army (AA) and the National Unity Government (NUG) have already recognized the Rohingya. Furthermore, it also has the responsibility of international community to provide an external guarantee for Rohingya’s safety upon repatriation. Therefore, it may not be unsafe to explore the possibilities of repatriation with the Junta. It seems the NGOs are driven by their own compulsion of lengthening ‘projects’ and squeeze their donors displaying the plight of the refugee community.

In a nutshell, the repatriation plan will reduce Bangladesh’s burden at least to some extent. The pilot project will also increase Bangladesh-Myanmar engagement. The World community should not go against it; instead, they should come forward and engage effectively to ensure the rapid repatriation of the rest of the refugees. The NGOs and Advocacy networks should also scale up their activity rather than reacting compulsively. we can consider the Rohingya pilot project as the beginning of the long-overdue repatriation, which might inspire more people to return Myanmar from Bangladesh in the future. Myanmar must ensure that the return of Rohingya Muslims is continuous, dignified, and sustainable. Myanmar needs to have goodwill in order to interact favourably with Bangladesh. The Rohingya situation needs to be resolved successfully and permanently, according to the entire globe. For the Rohingya people to return from Bangladesh to Myanmar with safety and dignity, the successful implementation of the pilot project is necessary.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2024 LankaWeb.com. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress