Rohingyas now a big burden for Bangladesh

THE country’s economy is burdened with an estimated USD1.21 billion a year for supporting the Rohingyas and the cost may go up with their population growth, inflation, and decline in foreign funding. The refugees are providing cheap labour and are involved in small businesses in Cox’s Bazar that are driving wages down and shrinking job opportunities for the locals. Experts in a roundtable in the city on Tuesday said that damage to forests and other natural resources could also impact tourism in Cox’s Bazar, home to some 12 million Rohingyas, including 743,000 who fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State since August 2017.
After the failure of two repatriation attempts due to refusal of Rohingyas to return without guaranteed citizenship, the crisis now seems a fiscal burden on the economy. If 300 Rohingyas are sent back a day it takes 12 years to repatriate the population. In that case, almost US$9.2 billion will be required to support the refugees. Hosting the Rohingya for the first five years with no repatriation would require over US$7 billion. Foreign funding already seems to be going down as only 38 per cent of the $920 million budget for the Rohingyas this year has been committed. Besides, Rohingya is a security threat for Bangladesh and the region. The problems are Myanmar’s constant denial of international human rights tools and UN Security Council’s failure to take concrete actions against the atrocities in Myanmar. There are allegations of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.
 Without a strong UN role and China’s active mediation, there is a little chance of repatriation of the Rohingyas. Security analyst said locals are angered by Rohingyas getting involved in crimes like drug trafficking, arms smuggling, and taking away job opportunities. On the other hand, Bangladesh is successful in highlighting the Rohingya crisis globally after 2017 influx but has yet to make a breakthrough in terms of repatriation. The delay of repatriation means increasing burden on Bangladesh government. It’s hard for Bangladesh to shoulder such a burden for an uncertain period.