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Need for programmatic intervention to Rohingya crisis

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13th-Nov-2017       
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Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque  and Dr. Mohammad Yakub :
Humanitarian crisis warrants careful development intervention. Now we are besieged by a sort of crisis created by the ethnic cleansing - the worst victims being the Rohingyas. They are beleaguered, persecuted, and deprived species. Recently Myanmar military junta's earth scorched policy with killing spree and arson using the anti-Rohingya Buddhists especially rustic Mogs in Arakan has made their lives hail  and unlivable. They are facing genocidal military action with the eventualities like rape of women and young girls, plundering and gutting of houses. The situation thus created out of the circumstance compelled them to take refuge in Teknaf and Ukhia in Cox's bazar. Mentionably Ruhingyas subject to oppression of the military government and anti-Rohingya ethno religious groups have been displaced from their original village home. They found no option other than rushing in southeastern part of Bangladesh. Now the crisis has multiplied. Thousands of them trying to cross Naf River died. The infants died being hungry for long time on the way to Teknaf through river. This is really a humanitarian issue.
The piercing humanitarian crisis stems from junta's deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing. In other words they let loose a reign of horror with repressive measures to flush out what they termed as Bangladeshis or Muslims living in the state Rakhaine. They are not recognized as citizens being deprived of all civil and political rights. Living in a perpetual state of repression Rohingyas have been living without any state support devoid of education, health, public health, and primary health cares. They have no voting rights. On the other hand the military government legally or illegally imposed tax on birth and marriage registration, crop production, sale of dairy animals and other day to day purposes.
Bangladesh has been responding well giving them food and shelter. Its initial response helped them to overcome trauma stage. Now they need temporary shelter. Health facilities with the support of international agencies should be extended to them. The children under shelter should be brought under open space education. As for health and other facilities there must be coordination among various agencies to avoid programmatic duplication and overlapping. There must be policy to regulate various agencies coming forward to serve the distressed.  
Our government is in the state of sense and sensibilities accepting the victims for the sake of humanity. No sooner they had started living in Ukhia, than they showed the sign of improving severe trauma. They need to be benefitted from the response of our government. We point to the medical supports and logistics to be provided by development agencies mostly NGOs. But there must be an alliance among them to make supporting role meaningful. Intervention in health, hygiene and sanitation sectors is a must. The absence of medical support will spell disaster. Several diseases may break out in epidemic form. We are afraid of water bone, communicable non-communicable diseases. Displaced females who suffered manifold hazards on the way need both prenatal and antenatal treatment. While thinking of a common programme of rehabilitation the concerned agencies should think circumspectively about monsoon. The latest fashion of violence against Rohingyas was terrible, horrendous and severe. As a result more than six lac victims entered Bangladesh for saving life. Many victims died on the way to escape, even pregnant women faced natal problem. Many trying to cross river falling easy prey to impostures like agents of boatmen became drowned with mothers or fathers carrying death bodies of their infants.  Ok we are kind enough to help the victims with shelter, food and medicine. But be careful about environment. No need of cleaning jungles and cutting hill and trees. Such act may be damaging to stable equilibrium.
For environment based development initiative in aid of Rohingyas there must be alliance among NGOs and international agencies. They must put their programmes together in the spirit of co-operation. Let us think that we are working towards humanitarian purposes. Programmes of collaboration with donors' support on long term basis must be capable of implementation without damaging environment.  According to reports numerous NGOs have been rendering voluntary services in Ukhia, and Teknaf of  Cox's Bazar to handle the situation. They are extending all possible support so that situation does not go beyond control. But they should come under a common platform to ensure progrramatic integration. It's time to go all out to stop further deterioration. The refugees ought to be concentrated in some areas as centres for rehabilitation.  The centres must have a detailed list of the distress deserving assistance. However, help them to help themselves and to return home.   
We are serious about the crisis of mass-exodus of the Rohingyas. We try to address the crisis. While stressing the rehabilitation programmes we must keep in mind that further inflow of refugees may create demographic imbalance all to the disadvantage of the local inhabitants. Number of the refugees getting helps must be recorded properly. It should be data base with detailed information of date of migration, causes of crossing borders, family identifications and others.

(Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque, former Professor, Chittagong University and Dr. Mohammad Yakub, Development Consultant)

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