More than 620,000 Rohingya people have poured into Bangladesh since August.
THE PLIGHT OF the Rohingya people is going to further deteriorate in 2018, with more forced to flee to Bangladesh and settle in ill-equipped, overcrowded and unhealthy camps, Oxfam has warned.
The aid agency is calling on the United Nations and world leaders to work with the Myanmar and Bangladesh governments to find an immediate and lasting solution to the ongoing crisis.
The Rohingya are a statement Muslim minority in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
They are denied citizenship in Myanmar and are denied social and political rights. Their own language is not recognised by the state and they are left off a national list of 135 recognised ethnicities.
More than 620,000 Rohingya people have poured into Bangladesh since August, running from a Myanmar military crackdown. At least 9,000 Rohingya have died in Myanmar in the space of a month between 25 August and 24 September, according to Médicins Sans Frontiéres.
For the almost one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the new year holds the fear of returning to Myanmar at the end of January or the threat of heavy rains and cyclone season in the spring, bringing fresh disaster in the form of deadly diseases like cholera.
Oxfam Ireland’s chief executive Jim Clarken has criticised the international community over its lack of efforts to “find a solution and ensure the dignity and safety of the Rohingya people”.
Oxfam recently spoke to more than 200 Rohingya refugees living in makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar. The charity said that many, especially women and girls, live in fear of abuse, exploitation or trafficking.
Despite this suffering, Oxfam says the Rohingya are determined to remain rather than return to Myanmar, saying they will not go back until their safety can be guaranteed and they have equal rights, including being able to work and travel freely.
“Many are deeply traumatised, having witnessed rape and their loved ones killed and told us they would commit suicide if forcibly returned before these conditions have been met,” Clarken said.
The international community can no longer stand by while crimes against humanity go unchecked.
“The UN and world leaders must take their share of responsibility and work with the Myanmar and Bangladesh governments to find a durable resolution to this crisis, through diplomacy, emergency relief and development support.”
The charity is urging people to donate to its Rohingya Emergency Appealand support those suffering in Bangladesh.