The Financial Express

Rohingya children too deserve a meaningful future  

| Updated: February 08, 2021 22:21:41

Rohingya children too deserve a meaningful future   

While visiting a few Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar recently, this author met a young man there. He used to go to a Bangladeshi university a few years back but had to leave studies due to financial constraints when a new influx of Rohingya refugees took place in August 2017. The youth is currently working in Rohingya camps with hundreds of others of his age through a network to educate the Rohingya children.

We found a few Rohingya girls who can speak English quite well and are working to protect rights of Rohingya girls and women in the camps where their compatriots have been provided with shelter.

Throgh activities on Twitter,we have been in regular contact with 10-15 well-educated Rohingya youths. They live in the camps and regularly post updates on the current situation. This author also knows a few Rohingya youths who can take pictures like professional photographers. Some even write poems and stories that are published in international magazines.

Some Rohingya social workers living in an European country want to provide financial support to those in the thecamps. They have contacted us to help them in this regard. The matter may be considered and resolved if the Commissioner for Refugee Relief and Repatriation and the NGO Affairs Bureau giveus go-ahead to receive assistance and distribute it among those who are entitled to.

It is to be noted that about 40 per cent of Rohingya between the ages of 3 years and 24 years are still unable to attend school. In 69 per cent of Rohingya families, at least one of the children aged 5-16 years is not participating in the education programme. A 2020 study revealed an alarming reality; almost 90 per cent (89 per centto be accurate) of the Rohingya people between 15 and 24 years do not have any access to education.

Many Rohingya adolescents and youths are frustrated at their uncertain future. They are not getting any education or job opportunities. I still believe that the Rohingya people have immense respect for the generosity of the Bangladesh Prime Minister and the local people. However, there are doubts about how long the respect will continue for us as many are constantly showing  a negative attitude towards them. A retired official was seen passing comments like ‘They(Rohingya) shouldn’t be provided with anything other than food’. Some locals of Cox’s Bazar are also found reluctant to do any kind of work for the Rohingya refugees.

Sorry, such mindsets cannot be support in any way. Definitley, we can work with the Rohingya people. Education and job opportunities should be created for them. For a better future of our own children, it is important to educate them and ensure employment for them to develop them as good human beings and also human resources.

The Rohingya children do not see any future ahead of them as they do not have access to education and opportunity of employment. Education and employment can be a way to keep the Rohingya youth away from various kinds of anti-social activities such as terrorism, drug peddling, and human trafficking. They can instead work towards spreading human values and pluralist views to ensure social cohesion.

We know how Al-Shabaab in Africa and ISIS in the Middle East recruit frustrated youths for joining the fanatic movement. The plight of people due to miserable situations in Nigeria, Somalia and the North Africa are also known to all. We can’t forget the militant attack on the Holey Artisan restaurant in Dhaka on July 1, 2016. We can in no way want to see recurrence of such tragic incidents anywhere else in Bangladesh and elsewhere.

We don't see anything wrong in transferring some money to the Rohingya youth for providing them small jobs. They charge lesser amount for the work than others do. But such employment must not have any negative impact on the employment of the locals. It does not mean that the money going to the Rohingyas will be used for different pirposes.

The Rohingya youth need to be trained not only for developing skills for jobs but also making them tolerant, law-abiding and responsible. They need to be motivated to get rid of the bitterness they witnessed in their lives and surroundings. The Rohingya community, too, should be on guard to keep all evil and undesirable things out of their community. It’s important that the policymakers consider these issues with positive frame of mind and focus on building an assured future of all concerned.

This piece, originally written in Bangla, has been translated and rewritten by Tanjim-Ul-Islam

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