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Raises Rohingya crisis at UN

Raises Rohingya crisis at UN

Speaking at the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has raised the Rohingya issue and criticised Myanmar for failing to fulfil its commitment to take them back. She described the Myanmar military's crackdown on the Rohingyas as tantamount to genocide and crime against humanity. Hasina said that Myanmar had given a verbal commitment to take back the Rohingyas who had fled to Bangladesh to evade ethnic and religious persecution in their home country but no progress was made on their repatriation. Urging the world leaders for an early and peaceful solution to the refugee crisis, she said, "The world cannot ignore or remain silent over the plight of the Rohingya people – driven from their homes in Myanmar and sheltering in Bangladesh." Bangladesh is hosting some 1.1 million Rohingyas in its relief camps, supported by humanitarian organisations including UN agencies, who are providing the refugees with food, clothing, healthcare, and security. Efforts are being made to provide them with improved housing, education, and other services. "We are disappointed that despite our earnest efforts we have not been able to begin Rohingya repatriation in a permanent and sustainable manner. Myanmar is one of our neighbours. From the outset, we have been trying to find a peaceful solution to the Rohingya crisis through bilateral consultations," said the Bangladeshi premier. In the wake of a massive crackdown by Myanmar's security forces against Rohingya militants in 2017, a large number of Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar's troubled Rakhine state and crossed over to Bangladesh where they were put up in makeshift refugee camps.

While human rights group including those from the UN are collecting evidence of Myanmar military's excesses against the Rohingyas, the delay in the repatriation of over a million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh is now turning into a major regional problem in India's immediate neighbourhood. Rohingya Muslims are a minority community in the Buddhist-dominated Myanmar, where they are treated as second-class citizens. Historically, Rohingyas were discriminated against by the Myanmar government, forcing them to live in abject poverty bereft of rights and facilities are given to normal citizens. For quite some time, Rohingyas have been fleeing the state prosecution in Myanmar to countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, India and Pakistan in perilous boat rides. The matter reached to a crisis when a crackdown by Myanmar military against a small group of Rohingya militant outfit triggered a massive exodus of Rohingyas from the Rakhine state to Bangladesh. The Myanmar military has been accused of orchestrating the widespread killing of Rohingyas besides setting their homes on fire. When the incessant flow of refugees crossed the half-billion mark, the respective governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar got down to solving the massive humanitarian crisis that was in front of them. The two governments had agreed that the Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh would soon be repatriated to their homeland. But the process is yet to begin.

The Rohingya crisis came as one of the most complex problems that Myanmar's top leader State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has to face. Amid rising international criticism for not denouncing the military action against Rohingyas, Kyi promised that her government would complete an investigation into the charges levelled against the Myanmar military. She also said that her government would work to take back all the Rohingyas who have fled their homes in the Rakhine state. Kyi who herself is a Nobel Peace Prize winner for her fights against the military rule in Myanmar and championing the cause of civil and democratic rights for her countrymen was under tremendous pressure to take a stance against the Myanmar military. But she did not. In the complex power equation in the country, the Myanmar military still enjoys a great deal of control over the government and if Kyi decides to differ with the military on important issues, she may have to face a difficult scenario in which she would be pitted against the powerful military. From a difficult power dynamics at home to the apathy of international community, Rohingyas today represent the worst kind of state prosecution with little help from any country. The refugee camps where the Rohingyas have been lodged are teeming with people while the basic amenities are non-existent. The voluntary organisation from different parts of the world including India are trying to provide the refugees with basic facilities including food and healthcare. But as the population in the refugee camps in Bangladesh has increased manifold to over a million, the pressure is mounting on the voluntary organisations and the Bangladeshi government to keep the supplies of essential items flowing. The international community including India should intervene in the matter and see to it that all the Rohingyas living in refugee camps in Bangladesh are repatriated to their homeland in Myanmar.

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