Rohingya crisis impact: Poverty up by 3.0pc in host community, study finds

Repatriation to cost between $3.2b and $11.6b

Mir Mostafizur Rahaman | Published: July 23, 2019 09:55:47 | Updated: July 23, 2019 15:40:56

Rohingya refugees look through a fence as they wait outside of aid distribution premises at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh October 8, 2017. Reuters/Files

The poverty increased by nearly 3.0 per cent in the host community due to the massive influx of Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar, says a new study.

The study, jointly conducted by the Policy Research Institute (PRI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said the combined effects of changes in wages and prices resulted in the rise in the headcount poverty by 2.73 per cent in Teknaf and 2.63 per cent in Ukhiya.

The research estimated that about 15,000 people in the host community have become poor.

Another 75,00 people of the host community have become vulnerable in terms of poverty incidence due to the refugee crisis.

"We've found that the protracted stay of the Rohingya community will create huge negative impact on the local economy," PRI chairman Dr Zaidi Sattar told he FE.

He said that they had conducted the research extensively to have a concrete idea of the impact of this "unprecedented exodus".

Responding to a question he said, it is difficult to exactly assess the cost of the damage.

For example, the cost of the environmental damage caused by massive deforestation and exploitation of other resources would be, at least, $500 million, the economist said.

He noted that PRI will hold an event on Thursday in the capital to disseminate the findings of their research study.

The research also found that the day labourers have been hard-hit by the influx due to the availability of the cheap labour from the Rohingya community.

Other serious effect was the rise in prices of agriculture produce in the area due to the surge in demand.

A ban on fishing on the Naf river on the Bangladesh Myanmar border has caused livelihood crisis for around 35,000 fishermen and their family members.

They had an annual income of around Tk 70,000 each from fishing, but now they earn nothing, reveals the study.

The impact on the areas of water and sanitation is also severe.

Excessive dependence on the ground water resulted in the lowering of the water levels in the area, the study warned.

The water levels around the camps are reported to have fallen by five to nine meters.

The fresh water options are extremely limited in the affected area, where deep tube wells are costly option for locals due to bedrock surface at a depth of 25 to 30 metres.

On the upside, Dr Zaidi said there is a short-term positive impact of the aid money.

But considering the damage, the downside effect is detrimental to the economy, he added.

He says that the road infrastructure damage in the area is estimated at around $200 million.

About repatriation, the study shows that some $3.2 billion will be required for the refugees under the most optimistic repatriation scenario - or 600 per day-and will take five years.

But the amount will go up to $11.6 billion if one takes a pessimistic outlook of the repatriation- 200 per day- which will take 13 years to repatriate the refugees.


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