Four years ago, the world witnessed the start of one of the most complicated refugee crises ever: the Rohingya crisis. The crisis ensued when the Burmese military junta started a widespread crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya, claiming that it was only fighting insurgents. However, satellite images showed the mass destruction of villages, houses, and vehicles that were burnt down into ashes. This and more acts of violence, such as rape, killing, and abduction drove out about a million Rohingya Muslims to the neighboring Bangladesh, making it the host to the biggest refugee camp in the world. Deplorably, the crisis did not stop there; those refugees have been suffering the tragedies of the harsh life in the camps under bad weather conditions. Not only that but recently there has been a series of arson and acts of violence inside those camps, which has further exacerbated the already critical life conditions of the refugees. The question that arises is whether there is a way out of the Rohingya dilemma or it will persist as one of the worst humanitarian crises! Let’s explore this together.
It is no surprise that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic on a global scale over the last two years has hindered many of the humanitarian efforts, exerting the most profound impact on the Rohingya refugees. Not only did the pandemic impose healthcare-related burdens on the refugee camps amid the scarcity of healthcare aids and equipment, but it also created a more serious economic problem for Bangladesh. That’s why Bangladesh called on through the UN General Assembly the international community to bear its responsibility towards the Muslim Rohingya community and push the Myanmar authorities to allow the repatriation of their citizens back to their homeland as Bangladesh can no longer bear such a huge financial burden.
Days ago, new reports about violence in Myanmar resurfaced, marking new acts of killing and burning, with Save the Children organization reporting 2 of its staff killed among 35 people, including children, on Christmas Eve. In a country with such conditions, will there be a future for talks to bring back their fleeing citizens? Does the international community have the ability to exercise pressure on the Myanmar Government currently under the rule of the military? But most importantly, can the Rohingya people trust such a government that not long ago committed acts of violence, killed people, raped women, and burned villages under the pretext of combating insurgents?
I believe there is an essential need for sincere dialogue to be held between the Rohingya and the government of Myanmar and for serious protection to be guaranteed by the international actors in order to secure a safe return for the Rohingya. Unless this happens, no repatriation seems possible.