ASIA/BANGLADESH - The humanitarian situation of the Rohingya is getting worse: calls for justice are becoming louder

Wednesday, 30 August 2023 human rights   justice   humanitarian aid  

Cox's bazar (Agenzia Fides) - "It has been six years since hundreds of thousands of Rohingya were forced to flee their homes in Myanmar and seek refuge in neighboring Bangladesh, where they have faced an escalation of violence and atrocities at the hands of the Myanmar security forces which resulted in the loss of their loved ones and homes. No one has been held accountable for these crimes," said Nicholas Koumjian, head of the UN's Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, set up by the UN Human Rights Council in 2018. The body is tasked with collecting and analyzing evidence of the most serious international crimes and other violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011 to enable justice and accountability. "We are collecting testimonies and other evidence of the physical violence inflicted on so many Rohingya and have launched an investigation into the businesses, farms and other properties that have been taken from them. We want to find out if there is a financial motive behind these crimes and who benefited from the campaign against the Rohingya," says Koumjian and appeals: "We call on the states to give us access to witnesses and information on their sovereign territory. The pursuit of justice for the Rohingya is a global task. Only together can we ensure that those responsible face the consequences and that those who have suffered the horror of these crimes receive justice". Six years after the tragic events in Myanmar, a claim for compensation has also reached the well-known IT group "Meta". In light of the devastating aftermath of the military operation six years ago, NGO Amnesty International is calling on Facebook's parent company to take responsibility for the platform's role in the ethnic cleansing of this persecuted minority. Amnesty International, through research under its Big Tech Accountability program, highlights how Facebook's algorithms and rampant pursuit of profit have helped create a toxic environment in which hatred has taken root, with tragic consequences for the Rohingya. Meanwhile, the situation of the approximately 700,000 Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar and are now in Bangladesh is deteriorating: "The Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, are completely dependent on aid supplies, live in makeshift shelters and have little freedom of action in their daily lives. The refugees have made their wishes clear: This has to change," says the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), a Bangladesh-based aid organization that works for the Rohingya. Together with local partners, the NRC provides shelter, water, hygiene and sanitation facilities and works to ensure the continuity of education for the refugees, reaching more than 150,000 people. "The past year," according to NCR, "has presented a number of challenges, including a cyclone, fires and landslides. The security situation has deteriorated and food rations have been cut twice. This situation is forcing more and more people to make an impossible choice: to remain in the camps and endure the prospect of malnutrition and insecurity, or to risk the perilous crossing of the sea for a chance at a new independent life". The aid agency notes that "refugees in Bangladesh are unable to work, despite repeated requests from the population to be self-sufficient. The Rohingya are therefore completely dependent on donor funding to survive. However, the aid available is barely enough to meet basic needs as resources for the Rohingya crisis are rapidly declining due to competing crises around the world". In order to ease the pressure on the refugee camps in Bangladesh, NRC stresses that "more and more efficient resettlements of refugees in third countries are needed". In the camps, the "medical need is still enormous and the humanitarian aid insufficient," confirms the medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders. "As a result of the scabies epidemic and the closure of several health centers for lack of funds, the flow of patients to one of our hospitals has increased by 50 percent in 2022," according to the organization, noting that "conditions have been getting worse from year to year". "People continue to live in overcrowded camps, in makeshift shelters, and are exposed to fires and natural disasters, without the ability to move to safer areas and build homes. In recent years, the health of the Rohingya population is deteriorating due to the poor living conditions they endure", according to Médecins Sans Frontières. In 2023, according to the NGO, there will be "a real health emergency", with the highest weekly increase in cholera patients since 2017, while dengue fever cases have increased tenfold since 2022. Médecins Sans Frontières warns that the organization's maternity hospital and children's hospital have already reached their maximum capacity in terms of admissions . "The camps were intended to be a temporary solution, but after six years they are still the only housing for these people. Unless donor countries' ineffective containment strategies change, the Rohingya population will remain extremely vulnerable to infectious disease outbreaks," said Arunn Jegan, head of MSF's Bangladesh mission. The appeal also refers to the funding of humanitarian aid: "Over the past two years, the funds provided by the UN countries, on which the lives of around one million Rohingya depend, have gradually decreased," notes the medical relief agency, while The World Food Program (WFP) food rations were gradually reduced from the equivalent of USD 12 per person per month to USD 10 in March 2023 and USD 8 in June: this has a significant impact on the incidence of malnutrition among pregnant and breastfeeding women and on the rate of acute malnutrition in children under the age of five. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 30/8/2023)