Dhaka, Bangladesh
Rohingyas ruffle eco-balance

Editorial

Rohingyas ruffle eco-balance

The issue of Rohingya repatriation goes through a real labyrinth of hostile circumstances and it seems difficult to get out of the fix soon. We, through editorials in this newspaper, said several times that in the mid and long term, the economic, social and environmental impacts of the crisis can be enormous if the Rohingya repatriation is inordinately delayed. Meetings after meetings on national and international levels on Rohingyas are held without any breakthrough. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina while inaugurating the ‘Dhaka Meeting of the Global Commission on Adaptation’ on July 10 said the environmental balance of Cox’s Bazar was under threat as hills and forests were being cleared to establish settlements for Rohingya. It is because of the presence of Rohingyas, the natural equilibrium is being destabilized in that area. As a result, those areas are becoming insecure and risky too, she added. The Prime Minister has very rightly said that Bangladesh has given shelter to the huge Myanmar nationals on humanitarian ground and the country is stepping forward with a big burden on its shoulder. As the experts say, this is demographic burden which is ultimately creating heavy pressure on the economy of the country as a whole. Even former UN Secretary-General Ban-ki-Moon expressed fears that the Rohingya issue would eventually be an unbearable crisis for Bangladesh while he criticized Myanmar for its visible reluctance to take back the forcibly displaced people. Rohingyas appear as a huge burden for a country like Bangladesh, he said. Rohingya population has added to already overpopulated Bangladesh. It has currently a Rohingya refugee population, which is far more than Bhutan’s total population. Bhutan has about eight lakh people, whereas Bangladesh has given shelter to about 1.2 million Rohingyas. It is certainly a herculean task for Bangladesh to provide life-saving services to the world’s worst persecuted community of Rohingyas when funding is in short supply. As to the ecological hazards, thousands of acres of forests have been destroyed for making temporary shelters for Rohingyas which means loss of timber worth hundreds of crore taka. Bangladesh is creating resilient forests in offshore areas to protect forest dependent communities and habitat of important forest biodiversity. But it is under threat posed by Rohingyas where they live. Land degradation due to denudation of forests, soil erosion, extraction of underground water and waste management add to the burden of government so long the Rohingyas stay in Bangladesh. The solution to the issue of the Rohingya repatriation, therefore, brooks no delay.

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