Reluctant Refuge: Rohingya safe but not secure in Bangladesh
Nine months ago, the first of more than 74,000 ethnic minority Rohingya streamed into Bangladesh, seeking refuge from abuses in Myanmar. The influx of refugees and the harrowing stories they carried brought needed international attention to the abuses taking place in Myanmar. But less focus has been given to the humanitarian crisis and inadequate support the situation exposed not only for the new arrivals, but also for the 33,000 Rohingya officially recognized as refugees and as many as 500,000 undocumented Rohingya already living in Bangladesh. The Government of Bangladesh has long refused to recognize the vast majority of Rohingya in the country as refugees and has been reluctant to do more to address their humanitarian needs or to accept international assistance to do so. The response has improved in recent months, but significant gaps remain, particularly regarding needs for food, adequate shelter, and protections against gender-based violence and trafficking risks. Many Rohingya continue to live in crowded conditions in makeshift shelters vulnerable to the high winds and heavy rains of the ongoing monsoon season, some within heartbreaking sight of their homeland. Recent pledges by the Government of Bangladesh on the global stage are encouraging and should be implemented along with ideas for better coordination being discussed by international humanitarian agencies. For more durable solutions, bilateral and multilateral engagement along with pressure when necessary on the Government of Myanmar on issues of safe returns, accountability, and citizenship will be crucial for addressing the root causes of the plight of the Rohingya.