For the past few years, Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar have been driven out of their homes, forced to make the long, perilous journey to Bangladesh, but what happens once they arrive, and how have Bangladesh dealt with the sudden flood of refugees?
In contrast to what happened with the flood of refugees to Europe, similar in number, where countries complained and started to become anti-refugee and immigration, Bangladesh has welcomed the Rohingya into their country with open arms and have given them a home, for the present. Though it is already one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with approximately 1,150 people per square kilometre, it has taken in more than half a million Rohingya Muslims. A vast influx of highly traumatised refugees from the neighbouring country have settled down in ‘the largest refugee camp in the world’ in the south-eastern Bangladeshi city, Cox’s Bazar. This generosity is at the cost of Bangladesh’s financial position, to accommodate the refugees costs at least US$1 billion per year. Another sign of their kindness is how they have postponed the repatriation program because they are concerned about the safety of the refugees. Consequently this could put their country in financial difficulty.
In refugee camps, the fleeing Rohingya receive food, shelter, schooling and safety, which they did not have access to in Myanmar. They also have the opportunity to live in a sanitised environment; this would be a drastic change for the refugees, who may not previously even have had access to everyday items such as toothpaste. However, this comes with a cost, a burden that Bangladesh must carry. This is problematic as the country faces other problems aside from financial instability.
One such trouble is the threat of radicalisation to the Rohingya refugees. In the past, extremist groups have attempted to recruit Rohingya Muslims. They are vunerable as they have just been evicted from their homes and have a lot of anger. As well as this, the local population has started to complain as costs rise and job availability is limited, which, with potential national elections next year, is very worrying for the current government in office. Another looming problem is flooding. The refugee camp are underprotected if the amount of rainfall rises, which could cause chaos. There is then the possibility of contagious diseases spreading. With so many people packed together closely, just having arrived from a long, hazardous journey on which they may have picked up illnesses, the chance of a plague of a dangerous ailment is highly likely.
All this kindness is coming with a cost. Surrounding countries have not offered to help, and President Modi of India has even publicly expressed his support for Myanmar in the crisis. With no assistance except from charitable organisations, Bangladesh are in deep financial trouble as more and more Rohingya refugees cross the border into Cox's Bazar. This hospitality has gained them othng but respect - are they just being kind, or is their another reason?
As the financial stability of Bangladesh teeters closere and closer to the edge of poverty, the question many are begging to ask is: What is fuelling Bangladesh's benevolence and why?