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“Bangladesh Is Not My Country” The Plight of Rohingya Refugees from Myanmar

 Category: Reports  Publisher: Human Rights Watch  Published: 5 August 2018  Tags: BangladeshRohingyaRohingya Refugees |  Download


In late August and September 2017, Bangladesh welcomed the sudden influx of several hundred thousand Rohingya refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. This followed an earlier wave of violence in October 2016, which forced over 80,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s respect for the principle of nonrefoulement is especially praiseworthy at a time when many other countries are building walls, pushing asylum seekers back at borders, and deporting people without adequately considering their protection claims. Currently, more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees are in the Cox’s Bazar area in Bangladesh’s southern tip. These consist of nearly 700,000 new arrivals on top of more than 200,000 Rohingya refugees already living in the area, having fled previous waves of persecution and repression in Myanmar. Bangladesh has continued to let in another 11,432 since the beginning of 2018 through the end of June 2018.

While the burdens of dealing with this mass influx have mostly fallen on Bangladesh, responsibility for the crisis lies with Myanmar. The Myanmar military’s large-scale campaign of killings, rape, arson, and other abuses amounting to crimes against humanity caused the humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh. And Myanmar’s failure to take any meaningful actions to address either recent atrocities against the Rohingya or the decades-long discrimination and repression against the population is at the root of delays in refugee repatriation. Bangladesh’s handling of the refugee situation needs to be understood in the context of Myanmar’s responsibility for the crisis.

The Kutupalong-Balukhali Expansion Camp near the town of Cox’s Bazar, sometimes referred to as the “mega camp,” is now the world’s largest refugee camp. It was built quickly and haphazardly on a hilly jungle. “Our entire village came together and settled on this spot,” said Amanat Shah, 19, who arrived on September 2, 2017. “At first this was a jungle, but we cleared it. Now there are no trees.” His hut now sits on a densely packed, steep slope with almost no vegetation to keep the clay-sand mix under him from eroding or suddenly sliding away.