Pressure on Bangladesh government on the Rohingya food crisis issue
Since the emergence of the Rohingya refugee crisis in 2017, the government of Bangladesh has been expeditious in responding to this humanitarian plight with local communities and aid agencies. In total, 33 refugee camps are home to over 1.2 million displaced Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar.
The government of Bangladesh has prohibited the refugees from finding formal employment and confined them to the camps. These forcibly displaced refugees are more or less entirely dependent on food assistance. Bangladesh's government's decision to restrict the free movement of the Rohingya refugees has prevented them from finding self-sufficiency in food and medical emergencies in this foreign land.
It is unfair to expect a developing nation like Bangladesh which has been showing warm hospitality for nearly six years to one million immigrants, to continue to do so with an exact level of enthusiasm. Pressure from the international level is on the government of Bangladesh to lift all sorts of restrictions on the refugees so they can live a decent life in this foreign land.
Myanmar, even after all these years, cannot be convinced to acknowledge Rohingya as their own. Instead of putting pressure on the government of Myanmar, the global focus is on Bangladesh to create a safe environment for immigrants.
So far, the government of Myanmar has shown no progress in ensuring the safe return of its people. They refused to take any responsibility for the violence that had caused the immigration of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas. They are still adamant about not giving citizenship rights to the returning Rohingyas. All the violence and injustice that had led the Rohingyas to flee their homeland remained unchanged in the last three years.
The World Food Program has been consistent in providing food, nutrition and other necessities to the refugee community with the handful support of donors and partners.
Up to February 2023, nearly 1 million Rohingya men, women, and children have been given food assistance via vouchers valued at US$ 12 per person. Starting from March 1st, the voucher has been reduced from US$ 12 to US$ 10 per person.
Almost six years into the Rohingya refugee crisis, for the first time, WFP is declaring its limitations on assistance for the refugees living in the coastal areas of Bangladesh. WFP has a deficit of about US$ 125 million in its funding for the Rohingyas. The rationing by WFP reduces the number of calories per person below the accepted minimum standard of 2,100 calories per day. A decrease in calorie intake puts people at risk of malnutrition, increasing the risk of future outbreaks of diseases, especially water diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea.
Reduced access to adequate food will increase the dependency of these helpless refugees on medical support. It will eventually increase the already high demand for health services at an overwhelming rate. The Children, adolescents, and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers will be particularly at high risk in camps due to their vulnerable condition. They can be an easy target for abuse, exploitation, and gender-based violence.
The government has proposed to relocate more Rohingya refugees to Bhashan Char island from Cox's Bazar for the well-being of the displaced community. The government is now seeking assistance from international organisations and agencies to bear entirely or at least contribute to a large degree to the expenses of the Rohingya relocation.
Without help from outside, it will not be easy, in fact, possible to construct well-planned infrastructures in Bhashan Char to make the remaining areas of the island livable for the refugees. The Bangladesh government can't handle things alone. Donors should come forward to induce the supply of food and healthcare for the suffering community.
It is expected that refugees should not be considered a burden but a contributor to the host economy. However, unless the deficit in the funding for the Rohingya refugees is taken care of with the assistance of international donors, the situation remains unsolvable for the Bangladeshi government alone.