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Insecurity grips Rohingyas: Myanmar should be forced to take back those forced out

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07th-Jan-2018       
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EIGHT out of every 10 Rohingyas those who have been sheltered in Cox's Bazar are vulnerable to food insecurity as they do not have the means to buy food and lacks coping strategies, said a study of World Food Programme. In percentage, 57.2 per cent are highly vulnerable to food insecurity and 22.8 per cent are vulnerable. And that's not all, the study also pointed out that among the new arrivals who are considered less vulnerable have resorted to coping strategies by selling jewellery, borrowing money, spending savings and buying food on credit.

The point, however, their food security status will quickly deteriorate once they have exhausted all their money and belongings.

Moreover, many Rohingya families have been reportedly forced to change their food consumption behaviours in order to compensate for food shortfalls. Overall, 7 in 10 households are forced to adopt one or more food-related coping strategies, which is an indicator of stressful living.

Rather strangely, such in depth monitoring and studies of refugees are being carried out by International Aid Agencies, and not the government. Giving shelter to a persecuted minority of another country doesn't only mean providing accommodation facilities, it means more. Food, medicine, clothing to treatment for diseases to security and a whole range of issues are also included. But our government, from the very beginning, seems to be incompetent in addressing the issues.

Referring to the study, the Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner said, he was not in a position to make any comment since he hadn't seen the report. How can this happen when the report has now been in the public domain. Its findings have been covered by both print and e-media.

He also said 'Bangladesh government was relentlessly trying to ensure food for Rohingyas' which straightaway conflicts with the report's findings. Previously it was alleged by many refugees that a dubious quarter was involved in transporting the refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh mainland via boats.

We call for the government to immediately address these pressing issues. None should take undue advantage of the weak and helpless Rohingyas. In particular, relating to food it isn't that nothing is being done at all - almost all Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar have received emergency food assistance but there is a major concern about limited access to a well-diversified balanced diet. The government's authorities concerned for food and nutrition should have looked into the matter since the influx had begun more than four months ago. We are not saying to provide the refugees with the best possible food, but they surely deserve easy access to convenient and sufficient quantity of food.

It is a great mistake for our government to think that Myanmar government will do anything to take back those forced out of the country in a brutal way because Bangladesh is trying to be too friendly. Bangladesh must join those willing to help Rohingya refugees to force Myanmar to take back those it forced out. We must gather strength to be able to use force against force.


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