The influx of more than half a million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar since August is having a huge effect on Bangladesh, including on its economy.
Many university groups in Bangladesh are protesting against the plight of the Rohingya and are calling on Myanmar to accept their return.
Academics are also pushing for more research to be undertaken on the crisis, its origins and the needs of the Rohingya group, in order to better prepare Bangladesh for its possible long-term impact on the country and its economy, according to a report by www.universityworldnews.com.
“Academic research on this issue so far is inadequate. There should be collaboration between international aid organisations and universities to do research on the Rohingya crisis,” Md Reazul Haque, a professor at the University of Dhaka’s department of development studies, told University World News.
In particular, health and education are the major challenges for the Rohingya, he says.
“The Bangladesh government must have a long-term plan to address the issue and should take the issue to different international platforms,” he said.
Some research is underway in his department on Rohingya health and education needs, which are stark.
Opportunities for Rohingya education in Myanmar’s Rakhine state had been limited prior to 2012, with very high rates of illiteracy reported – up to 80 per cent illiteracy, according to some studies.
Access to university education has for years been restricted within Myanmar for this Muslim minority.
In addition, academics in Bangladesh are particularly well placed to help counter the Myanmar government’s version of history.
Azrin Afrin, a history lecturer at Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, told University World News historical documents show that Rohingyas have been living in Myanmar’s Rakhine state for centuries, yet the Myanmar government insists they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which underpins their moves to drive them out of Myanmar.
“This is absurd. Bangladeshi academicians should write more in international journals on the history of Rohingyas,” she said.
More than 507,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh over the past few weeks as Myanmar security forces launched a crackdown on 25 August, following attacks on border posts in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state by a Rohingya armed group. Refugees are still coming to Bangladesh weeks after the start of the violence.