Published:  06:50 PM, 26 August 2018

Deforestation due to Rohingyas eats up land worth Tk 741.31cr: ICCB

Bangladesh faces the worst manmade disaster from Myanmar without any war or any conflict andthe total value of 6,000 acres of deforested land in Rohingya camps is equivalent to Tk 741.31 crore or USD 86.67 million, said a leading chamber on Sunday.

The influx of Rohingyas has created a pressure on the economy and overall security of Bangladesh, said theInternational Chamber of Commerce-Bangladesh (ICCB) in itseditorial of the current News Bulletin (April-June 2018).

This also has adverse impacts on the environment and climate of Bangladesh.

Some 6,000 acres of land have already been deforested by the Rohingya camps.

According to an estimate, the total value of 6,000 acres of deforested land in the Rohingya camps is equivalent to Tk 741.31 crore or USD 86.67 million.

The government of Myanmar had signed a repatriation agreement with Bangladesh, which continues to host the Rohingyas.

Butnot a single Rohingya refugee has returned under the formal framework agreed with Bangladesh, ICCB observed.

Besides, it said, many of those who have returned home have been detained. Between January and April this year, 58 Rohingyas who returned were arrested and convicted on unspecified charges.

They then received a Presidential pardon, but have simply been transferred from Buthidaung prison (in northern Rakhine province) to a so-called 'reception centre'. So, more Rohingyas continue to seek shelter in Bangladesh.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres visited Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh on July 2.

After visiting Rohingya camps, he said the violence they had faced at home in Myanmar since last August was probably one of the most "tragic stories" of "systematic violation" of human rights ever recorded.

The UN chief was accompanied by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, which announced nearly$500million in grant-based support to help Bangladesh address the needs of refugees. World Bank President Kim called on everyone to "stand in solidarity" with the Rohingyas so that they can live a life of dignity.

While Myanmar faced widespread international condemnation for the military's ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, concrete action was less forthcoming.

In September, the UN Security Council held its first open discussion of the situation in Burma in eight years.

A draft Security Council resolution was blocked by a veto threat from China, ICCB said.

In September, the United Kingdom also announced it was halting all the engagement programmes with the Burmese military.

In October, the European Union suspended invitations to senior military officers and undertook a review of defense cooperation.

The United States ceased consideration of travel waivers for current and former senior military officials and rescinded invitations for senior military officials to attend US-sponsored events.

In December, the UNHCR held a special session condemning the violations, urging the government to grant access to the council-created Fact-Finding Mission, and calling on the government to address the root causes.

And in December, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution drafted by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and co-sponsored by a broad cross-regional coalition that called for an end to military operations, unhindered access for humanitarian assistance and actors, the voluntary and sustainable return of refugees to their original places, accountability for violations and abuses, and full respect for the 'human rights and fundamental freedoms' of the Rohingya population, including full citizenship.

The Rohingya crisis has created multi-dimensional problems for Bangladesh. For hosting Rohingyas the economy and environment of Bangladesh has affected adversely.

Bangladesh deserves all the supports and solidarity from the international community to face the crisis.

Though Bangladesh has been receiving sympathies for hosting the Rohingyas from different quarters, including the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, there has been no tangible progress in repatriation of these distressed Rohingyas so far.

It is, therefore, imperative on the part of world leaders to force Myanmar in rehabilitating Rohingyas without delay and provide them full citizenship and grant civil liberties.

The United Nations estimates that almost 1 million Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar's violent campaign of ethnic cleansing.

The vast majority of Rohingya refugees are women and children, including newborn babies and elderly people requiring additional aid and protection, the ICCB said.



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