Through its triennial Refugee Policy Review Framework, the World Bank suggested that Bangladesh adopted some measures to promote integration of the Rohingya people into the host country's society. In its letter the multilateral body has sent along with the policy review framework to Bangladesh, it has recommended freedom of movement, birth certificate, privileges of education, job and infrastructure for the forcibly displaced people from the RakhineState of Myanmar. If these rights are guaranteed, the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh will enjoy the same rights and privileges as its own citizens do. Although Bangladesh reserves the right to accept or reject the recommendations, reading between the lines it may not be difficult to discern an oblique, rather subliminal tag between fund allocation for the refugees and the host country meeting an extended expectation threshold. The WB is supporting Bangladesh with a financing grant worth $ 590 million in order to lessen the pressure on the host country. Although it clarifies that the WB reviews the refugee policy framework every three years before mobilising funds under the International Development Assistance (IDA), in order to provide fund for refugee-hosting countries, the recommendations or suggestions for Rohingya integration are out of place.
Why? Bangladesh with a small geographic area is burdened with a teeming population. It is struggling to create employment for its overwhelmingly larger proportion of employable people as against the aging nations where people of working age are in demand. The threat of sea rise due to climate change, moreover, indicates the loss of a substantial area in the coastal region to the sea. Before making any such recommendation, the WB should have taken into consideration all such pertinent issues. Any such suggestion, even made remotely, only encourages the Myanmar junta to oppose repatriation of the Rohingya to their homeland in Rakhine. After all, the army carried out one of the worst pogroms of modern time in that state and they will consider any such suggestion by a multilateral body an endorsement of their position vis-à-vis Rohingya rights to Myanmar citizenship.
Foreign MinisterAK Abdul Momen has rejected the proposal outright and rightly pointed out that this country has done more than enough for the Rohingya refugees. The international community would do better to pressurise the Myanmar government for early repatriation of its displaced citizens. Arguments that different countries have different policies on refugee management and some countries allow freedom of movement for refugees are not tenable here. No single country is hosting as large as 1.0 million refugees who are victims of persecution in their own country. Notwithstanding the enormous pressure they have created on local communities, natural resources and the environment, Bangladesh has borne the burden only on humanitarian ground.
However, Bangladesh has already made decent arrangements for housing of a large number of the Rohingya people. Also importantly, education under Myanmar curriculum and language is imparted to Rohingya children so that when they go back to their country, it can be useful. Many developed but aging nations may have the luxury of granting other privileges to migrants and even refugees because low-end labour is in demand there. Instead of pampering the repressive military government in Myanmar it is time for the international community to say point blank that delay in repatriation will no longer be tolerated because the stateless people will irreparably regress for their long exile.