Violence forces more Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh

Rohingya refugee fixes his makeshift shelter at Kutupalong refugee camp in the Bangladeshi district of Ukhia on Jan. 9, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 09 January 2018

Violence forces more Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh

DHAKA: Rohingya refugees are still arriving in Bangladesh as violence forces them to leave Myanmar, according to a report released over the weekend.
“This week, Rohingya refugees were still arriving in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh — the New Year bringing no end to the reports of violence and fears, which forced them to flee their homes in Myanmar,” said the report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
“Over 2,400 refugees are estimated to have arrived in Bangladesh during December 2017, with more people continuing to arrive each day as 2018 begins,” the report said.
Rohingya refugees from the Arakan state of Myanmar continue to enter Bangladesh while authorities of both countries discuss the process of refugee repatriation starting this month.
In the first week of January, about 60 Rohingya refugees entered Bangladesh through the Teknaf border in Cox’s Bazar district, as confirmed by local Union Parishad chairman Noor Hossain. The refugees narrated the ongoing atrocities by the Myanmar army in Rakhine.
“We were encircled by the army for the past few months. We could not even go to the jungle to collect firewood. There is an acute crisis of food,” said Farida Begum, 29, who lived in the Buthidhang area under Rakhine state of Myanmar. Farida, along with her three children, reached Bangladesh four days ago and took shelter at Tengkhali camp in Ukhia, Cox’s Bazar.
“My brother-in-law and two cousins were shot dead by the army during the first week of September. Still I tried to stay there. But these days food is scarce in my locality and that compelled me to cross the border,” Farida said.
Despite the ongoing atrocities in Rakhine, Bangladesh and Myanmar are now working on Rohingya refugee repatriation. The Joint Working Group (JWG) formed according to the deal signed on Nov. 23 last year for the repatriation of refugees, is expected to meet by mid January in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw, according to foreign ministry sources in Dhaka. The agreement demanded repatriation to begin within two months of signing the deal. But analysts express reservations over the success of the JWG meeting.
“Are the Rohingyas comfortable with the idea of repatriation amidst the ongoing violence?” the former Bangladeshi ambassador to the United States, Humayun Kabir, told Arab News.
Citing the three important players — the government, army and the Buddhist community of Myanmar — he says the “political government of the country needs to take the initiative and create a friendly environment so that the Rohingyas feel confident going back to their place,” he said. “The repatriation should be voluntary. Under the current circumstances, I don’t feel that they will be comfortable to go back voluntarily.”
Professor Akmol Hossain, who teaches International Relations at Dhaka University, said: “The Rohingya need to see that a favorable and welcoming situation prevails in Rakhine. Bangladesh has faced the Rohingya refugee crisis earlier as well and it took a long time to repatriate them.”
“After signing the agreement, repatriation becomes a bilateral issue for Bangladesh but we simultaneously need continuous international support,” Professor Akmol said. “We need to sensitize the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC] leaders to make more diplomatic efforts. At the outset of the refugee crisis, the Bangladesh government had drawn very good international attention through its diplomatic efforts, which recently seems to have dimmed. We need to build pressure on Myanmar government through effective diplomacy.”
According to IOM, as of Jan. 7 a total of 655,000 Rohingya refugees had taken shelter in Bangladesh since the violence escalated in late August last year. The international migration agency fears a continuation of violence against Rohingyas in the new year, which has compelled them to leave the Myanmar and live an austere life in Bangladesh’s refugee camps.
Olga Rodbello, mental health and psycho-social support coordinator for IOM in Cox’s Bazar, said, “We continue to see a great deal of distress among Rohingya survivors arriving in Bangladesh. They have faced a lot of adversity and many are in need of psycho-social support to help restore a sense of safety and further strengthen the resilience they’ve already shown.”

Global civil unrest and violence in quarter of countries in 2019, expected to rise in 2020: Report

Updated 17 January 2020

Global civil unrest and violence in quarter of countries in 2019, expected to rise in 2020: Report

  • Identified Sudan as most troubled and “extreme risk” country in the world
  • According to the report, 2019’s biggest flashpoint locations were Hong Kong and Chile

LONDON: Nearly a quarter of the world’s nations witnessed a rise in unrest and violence in 2019 with the figure expected to rise in 2020, according to a study released earlier this week.

Verisk Maplecroft, a socio-economic and political analysis company, said in its index of global civil unrest that 47 of the world’s 195 countries were affected and that the number could hit 75 in the year ahead.

The UK-based consultancy firm identified Sudan as the most troubled and “extreme risk” country in the world, which had previously been held by Yemen.

According to the report, 2019’s biggest flashpoint locations were Hong Kong and Chile and neither is expected to be “at peace” for at least two years its researchers claim.

“The reasons for the surge in violent unrest are complex and diverse. In Hong Kong, protests erupted in June 2019 over a proposed bill that would have allowed the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China, However, the root cause of discontent has been the rollback of civil and political rights since 1997,” the firm said.

“In Chile, protests have been driven by income inequality and high living costs but were triggered by a seemingly trivial 30-peso (USD0.04) increase in the price of metro tickets,” it added.

Other countries now considered hotbeds unrest include Lebanon, Nigeria and Bolivia. Asia and Africa are disproportionately represented with countries such as Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and Zimbabwe also coming under the “extreme risk” label.

Since authoritarian leader Omar Al-Bashir was overthrown in April, Sudan was gripped by protests, violence and killings as armed forces battled democracy supporters for control of the new government.

The index predicts that a further 28 countries examined will see a “deterioration in stability,” suggesting that nearly 40% of all countries will witness disruption and unrest at some point in 2020.

Ukraine, Guinea Bissau and Tajikistan are all expected to see the sharpest rises in unrest, but the report highlights growing concern in the world’s biggest and most powerful countries as well.

Countries identified include the hugely influential nations of Russia, China, Turkey, Brazil and Thailand.

Maplecroft says there will be increased pressure on global firms to exercise corporate responsibility, especially those in countries “rich in natural resources where mining and energy projects often need high levels of protection.”

“However, companies are at substantial danger of complicity if they employ state or private security forces that perpetrate violations,” the report added.