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Bangladesh seeks humanitarian aid over refugees

By YANG HAN in Hong Kong | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-01-05 09:54
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Life in the Rohingya refugee camp has never been easy for 26-year-old Senowara Begum.

But at least her work — four hours a day at the camp's jute bag production center — does allow her to have a better life with her husband and two sons. "I think (doing this) can help me in bad times when there might be no aid or anything. I can still make a living," said Begum, who was trained to make jute bags and has been working at the facility for two years.

After fleeing violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State in 2017, about 1.3 million Rohingya refugees are living in Bangladesh, most of them in Cox's Bazar, making it the world's largest refugee camp.

Though a repatriation agreement was signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar in 2017, the plan has been delayed ever since.

Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, joint secretary of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner under Bangladesh's Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, said Bangladesh needs more political support to deal with the Rohingya refugee issue.

The international community can provide more help to resolve the issue, Rahman said. The massive number of refugees has placed enormous pressure on the South Asian country, which was given the nod by the United Nations General Assembly in 2021 to graduate from the least developed country status.

Basic needs

Rohingya refugees rely entirely on humanitarian assistance for protection, food, water, shelter and health, said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR.

With support from international donors and humanitarian partners, the Bangladeshi government has been providing essential support to the refugees and improving their living standards through projects such as the jute production workshop and setting up classrooms inside the camp.

The Bangladeshi government has also relocated some 28,000 Rohingya refugees offshore to the island of Bhasan Char, where it has scaled up essential humanitarian services.

Miah Md Mainul Kabir, director-general of the Myanmar Wing at the Bangladeshi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said repatriation of Rohingya refugees remains the top and ultimate solution for the Bangladeshi government.

"We are still pursuing to arrange the repatriation with Myanmar," Kabir said. At the same time, the government is seeking the help of other countries that are working with Bangladesh and Myanmar to arrange small repatriations.

All dialogue that leads toward peaceful and durable solutions regarding the Rohingya refugee issue is encouraged so that they can return home, said Regina de la Portilla, communications officer at UNHCR.

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