The Rohingya crisis is not confined to Bangladesh anymore. It has now become a global issue. Bangladesh has been seeking the cooperation of regional countries and the United Nations in the repatriation of Rohingya since the beginning. But in the last five years, no results have come as expected. As a result, the Rohingya crisis has become a security risk.
According to analysts, if this crisis continues, the risk of involvement in drugs, human trafficking, sex crimes, terrorism, murders, extremism and cross-border crimes among the Rohingya population will increase.
Bangladesh is trying to solve this problem diplomatically. The cooperation of Asean has been sought. Bangladesh has continued discussions with China and Japan in this regard. On July 24, Japanese Parliamentary State Minister for Foreign Affairs Honda Taro expressed his support for the repatriation of Rohingyas during his visit to Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is slated to visit India sometime in September. She may discuss the issue with her Indian counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India should help Bangladesh solve the Rohingya crisis as both claim to have better bilateral ties.
The International Court of Justice has already ruled on July 22, 2022, that the Gambia's case for genocide against Myanmar would proceed despite Myanmar's preliminary objections to all of it.
Earlier, on July 18 in Jakarta, the Bangladesh FM sought Asean's help in solving the Rohingya crisis. In a bilateral meeting with Abdul Momen and Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi, Indonesia and the Asean support for Rohingya repatriation was sought.
On July 28, FM Momen expressed extreme disappointment at the role of 'friendly' countries at an event in Dhaka. He said that after 2017, the investment and business of Bangladesh's friendly countries have increased in Myanmar.
Momen said that the United Kingdom has been supporting Bangladesh since independence. But in these five decades, their investment in Bangladesh is $2.5 billion while the UK's investment in Myanmar has exceeded $2.3 billion in the last five years.
He said that the European Union's investment in Myanmar has increased 15 times since the ethnic cleansing campaign in Myanmar. The West, however, imposed sanctions on several generals of Myanmar due to their repression of the Rohingyas.
India and China also have huge investments in Myanmar due to geopolitical reasons. The Asean countries are also investing to keep Myanmar's economy moving whereas they should have played an important role in solving the Rohingya problem.
The UN has long been involved with the Rohingya crisis. This June, a resolution was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council for the rapid repatriation of the Rohingyas. But there have been allegations of weakness in the agency's operations.
It is true that the entire world including Bangladesh is in a difficult situation due to the coronavirus and the Russo-Ukrainian war. It is even more difficult for Bangladesh, a small country of 165 million people, to bear the burden of an additional 1.1 million Rohingya.
The Myanmar government is responsible for the failure of Rohingya repatriation because the Myanmar government has no interest in encouraging the repatriation of Rohingyas to Rakhine.
The Myanmar government is creating a frightening situation by carrying out terrorist activities one after the other in Rakhine. Due to this, the bilateral (Bangladesh-Myanmar) repatriation initiative is falling through.
So far not a single Rohingya has been sent to Rakhine due to Myanmar's negative attitude. No one wants to leave their country and become a refugee. The Rohingya people also believe that repatriation will end their suffering. But no refugee can be sent back without humanitarian security and citizenship.
Bangladesh has registered about 876,000 Rohingyas for repatriation. But only 35,000 of them have been confirmed by the Myanmar government and they claimed that the rest are residents of Bangladesh (Chattogram).
It is not only the responsibility of the host country when it comes to a refugee crisis. It is rather the responsibility of the entire international community.
Unfortunately, regional, global and international forums do not seem to have the power to put pressure on Myanmar to repatriate the Rohingyas. The countries and leaders who will apply pressure in this regard are the ones who have engaged in commercial relations with Myanmar. So, it is difficult for them to put pressure on Myanmar.
The attention of European countries is now on the war in Ukraine. Countries are not paying attention even to bankrupt Sri Lanka. Under the current circumstances, Bangladesh should move forward to solve this problem with the Asean countries.
Instead of looking to Europe and America to solve the crisis, Asia should prove its abilityCountries like China, Japan, Korea and India should take the lead in Rohingya repatriation discussions, because they have business relations with Myanmar.
Myanmar has had a tendency to expel its own people for a long time. Starting from 1970, 1980, 1990 and lastly, in 2017, the government of that country expelled the Rohingyas. As a result, hatred towards the Rohingya spread among the common people of Myanmar.
The Rohingyas have become a marginalised community. It is difficult to ensure acceptance and tolerance for the Rohingyas in Myanmar. But the Buddhist communities in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam may help soften the attitude of Myanmar Buddhist organisations and play an important role in the repatriation of Rohingya.
Abantika Kumari is an Assistant Professor at the History Department of Allahabad College, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.