Persecuted in Myanmar, chased away by India and Saudi Arabia, Rohingya seek elusive home in cramped camps of Bangladesh

  • Myanmar had stripped Rohingya of citizenship in 1982 and the community is not recognised as one of the country’s ethnic groups.
  • More and more Rohingya have taken refugee in camps at Bangladesh’s Cox Bazar area
  • Around 1,300 Rohingya from India have fled to Bangladesh instead since the start of this year

For the Rohingya, considered to be the ‘most persecuted community in the world’, the comforts of home are elusive. Starting August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar to escape a brutal army-led crackdown in its Rakhine state, their erstwhile home. Myanmar had stripped them of citizenship in 1982 and the community is not recognised as one of the country’s ethnic groups, thereby restricting their rights to study, work, travel, marry, vote, practice their religion or access health services. Thousands have taken shelter in neighbouring countries of India, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia.

Of late, however, both India and Saudi Arabia have deported these migrants back to Myanmar and Bangladesh, respectively. Will Bangladesh then become the Rohingya’s new home, if any semblance to it can ever be achieved by a community facing persecution?

India’s stand

While Bangladesh looked at India for support to tackle the ‘Rohingya issue’, New Delhi had in 2018 issued an official statement saying the country wishes a “speedy, safe and sustainable return of displaced persons to Rakhine state”.

Not surprising then that seven Rohingya men were deported to Myanmar in October 2018. Several rights groups have slammed India for not sticking to the principle of non-refoulement that prohibits deportation of refugees to places where their lives and freedom seem threatened

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