By Nazrul Islam
Dhaka – Bangladeshi government has undertaken a massive development scheme involving 10.57 billion taka (125.91 million dollars) to tackle the crisis arose out of the last year’s influx of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.
The country’s Nation Economic Council headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday approved the allocation for building cyclone shelters, multipurpose community services centers, construction of roads and drainage system among others, a senior minister said.
“It’s our responsibility to look after them (Rohingya) as long as they are in Bangladesh,” said Planning Minister A H M Mustafa Kamal. He added that the government will implement the Multi-sector Project to tackle Rohingya crisis on urgent basis.
More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh after Myanmar army launched a brutal military campaign against Muslim insurgents blamed for carrying out attacks on security posts in northern Rakhine state in August 2017.
Bangladesh has been hosting yet another 400,000 Rohingya who were driven away from their homes in the past decades.
Burdened already with its own 160 million population, Bangladesh took the pressure of the refugees on humanitarian ground, and it has now been trying a diplomatic solution to repatriate the most persecuted ethnic community.
Although Myanmar, which denied citizenship of the Rohingya Muslims, agreed to repatriate them, the military-dominated politics of Naypyidaw has been playing dilly-dally to take them back.
And the United Nations, which called the military crackdown an example of ethnic cleansing, have been warning for not to return the persecuted population now to Myanmar since many people were still crossing the border facing repression.
A UN fact finding mission on Myanmar led by Marzuki Darusman last week said in New York that those who stated back the last year’s campaign are “continue to suffer the most severe” restriction and repression.
But Bangladesh still looks optimistic for the voluntary repatriation of the refugees, who earlier said would not return to their homes until they are assured to be treated as Myanmar citizens, in a reasonable time.
Kamal said the infrastructure being built now for the Rohingya would be used by the local communities.
“When the Rohingya will return to their country, the local people will enjoy the infrastructural facilities as they have suffered a lot,” he told reporters in Dhaka.
The minister detailed that under the project, the government will set up 23 cyclone shelter centres and 30 multipurpose community services centres.
It will also develop 203.50-kilometre roads, widen 17.15-kilometre roads, and constructing a number of footpaths, drains, bridges and culverts in Cox’s Bazar, where the world’s largest refugee settlement are located now.