Muscat: Bangladeshi Foreign Affairs Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali has thanked Oman for helping his country with the ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis.
The Oman Charitable Organisation, seeking to lend a helping hand to the ongoing efforts to assist the Rohingyas, has taken the initiative of building 1,000 homes for them.
Some 1.2 million refugees now live in 30 relief camps spread across 6,000 acres in Bangladesh, with the two biggest camps being Kutupalong and Nayapara in the Cox’s Bazaar district.
The Times of Oman was on the ground in Bangladesh to see the progress being made to develop these camps, towards which other nations such as India and China are also contributing.
Ali told Times of Oman, “Thanks to Oman for helping and supporting us with the Rohingya crisis by building housing units in coordination with the Bangladeshi government."
“We hope that other countries will come forward and help us with the Rohingya. The Indian government has already built 250 houses, and the Chinese government is going to build 1,000 houses for the Rohingya who are staying in Cox’s Bazar camps. Bangladesh is hosting 1.2 million Rohingya refugees so far.”
The foreign minister added that some of the refugees would be relocated to Bhasan Char, a remote island in the Bay of Bengal, as the areas where they are currently staying at are densely populated.
In August, the Omani camp for Rohingya refugees in Dhaka was opened by Ta’aib bin Salem Al Alawi, the Plenipotentiary Minister, Head of the Sultanate’s Embassy Mission in Dhaka.
Speaking to the Times of Oman, Al Alawi said, “Some 107 out of 1,000 housing units were completed and the work is ongoing to complete the rest of the houses. Each house has two units and can accommodate two families. Bangladesh and the United Nations relief agencies are the ones who are in charge of running the camp at Cox’s Bazaar.”
The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar. The latest exodus began on August 25, 2017, when violence broke out in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, the western corner of Myanmar, driving more than 723,000 to seek refuge in Bangladesh.
Most arrived in the first three months of the crisis. An estimated 12,000 reached Bangladesh during the first half of 2018, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The vast majority reaching Bangladesh are women and children, and more than 40 per cent are under the age of 12. Many others are elderly people requiring additional aid and protection.
Nearly all those who arrived during the influx have sought shelter in and around the refugee settlements of Kutupalong and Nayapara in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district. Some have joined relatives there. The enormous scale of the influx is putting immense pressure on the Bangladeshi host community and existing facilities and services, according to UNHCR.
“Bangladesh and Myanmar had signed a deal earlier this year for the return of the Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar but the repatriation was delayed due to the lack of international involvement,” said Ali. “More than 6,000 people have been given clearance to return to Myanmar. The Rohingya refugees are livings in shacks here and human beings shouldn’t live like this.” The foreign minister didn’t give the exact date of the repatriation, stressing that the process is ongoing.
Earlier, Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, in her speech at the UN General Assembly, said the current mistreatment of the Rohingya at the hands of the Myanmar government simply could not continue.
“We are disappointed that despite our earnest efforts we have not been able to begin the Rohingya repatriation in a permanent and sustainable manner,” she told the assembled world leaders.
“Myanmar is one of our neighbours. From the outset, we have been trying to find a peaceful solution to the Rohingya crisis through bilateral consultations. I call upon international organisations to join hands with us in this initiative. I also seek their assistance to help relocate the Rohingya.”
The Kutupalong refugee settlement has grown to become the largest of its kind in the world, with more than 600,000 people living in an area of just 13 square kilometres, stretching infrastructure and services to their limits.
Over 1.2 million Rohingya are currently living in 30 camps across 6,000 acres in two sub-districts of Cox’s Bazar.
Ukhia sub-district alone hosts over 80 per cent of Rohingya refugees in camps built between and on top of hills that were dense forests just a year ago. Earlier this year, Omani charitable organisation Dar Al Atta’a also took up a charitable collection for the displaced Rohingya, and collected more than OMR60,000 for them.
“The total amount of Rohingya income was OMR62032,” said Shatha Abbas, one of the co-founders of the organisation.
“We actually went to Bangladesh, where the Rohingya refugee camps are situated, to see how we could help them. All of our international aid is sent through the Oman Charitable Organisation. They are the official representatives of all Omani aid overseas and they know to whom the aid is going.”