Bangladesh (MNN) – The discussions between Myanmar and Bangladesh for repatriating the nearly 700,000 Rohingya refugees have been slow, creating issues in Bangladesh’s economy. However, the Rohingya people are not pushing for their return to Myanmar either.
“The Rohingyas are not willing to go back because they are getting food here, they are getting shelter, and they say they are not willing to go back. But it’s a big issue because a huge amount, a population [around] one million are here. So, it’s a big responsibility for the Bangladesh government, as well as the Christian churches, and NGOs and international NGOs,” Asian Access’ *Pastor Peter says.
Strain on Organizations and the Bangladesh Economy
Many NGOs, the United Nations, and the Bangladesh government are providing food, water, medicine, and supplies to the refugees.
Yet the large population of refugees relying on the aid organizations and the Bangladesh government is exhausting resources quickly. Prices in Bangladesh, which is one of the world’s poorest nations, are spiking because of it, affecting the nationals and hurting the economy.
Pastor Peter says the price of food, medicine, and just about everything else has gone up. For example, he says the price of a liter of oil used to be comparable to one dollar. Now it’s equal to about five dollars. He says neighborhoods near the border are struggling and do not have the means to survive the situation.
With even more refugees entering the country, the delayed repatriation discussions, and the upset in the economy, Eyewitness News says officials and aid workers fear that the welcome the Rohingya once received from the Bangladeshi people may be running out.
There have been protests, which Eyewitness News says were peaceful, but nationals are blaming the Rohingya for the increase in prices and worry about possible diseases, drug trafficking, and military activity.
Repatriation and Relocation
In November, a deal was reached for repatriation to begin in two months but was delayed for fear of safety and document restrictions.
Further, the Bangladesh government has stated they would not force any person to return to Myanmar. So far, out of the nearly 700,000 refugees, only about 400 people have said they would willingly return to their country.
Bangladesh is now planning to relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees to the uninhabited island, Bhashan Char, though they do not have a timeline for it, according to Reuters.
Bangladesh’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Mohammad Shahriar Alam, said the country would pay $280 million to help build homes and stabilize the island from the weather.
This could further drive up prices in Bangladesh.
Respond in Prayer
“We cannot do anything, but we can pray,” Pastor Peter says.
Pray that the Myanmar government will take action and accept the Rohingya back, promising safety as they do.
“We just need your prayer that this present [Bangladesh] government is dialoguing with the Myanmar government to take back their refugees to their country. But it’s tricky issues of political issues, so please pray that God may intervene the situation and that both governments will take such kind of initiative that the Myanmar government will be ready to take back their people.”
Pray also for NGOs and the Bangladesh government as they continue providing aid to the refugees. Pray the Rohingya will see the love of Jesus in the love and care from churches and ministries.
Asian Access is working with partners on the ground to continue providing food and supplies while showing the love of Jesus, which has deeply impacted the Rohingya people.
“They just found that people are really, very much accept the Christians because the way they show the love of Jesus, which is much different than others,” Pastor Peter says.
Finally, pray for the Bangladesh economy and for the provision of supplies for refugees.
(Header photo courtesy of Food for the Hungry.)
*Name changed for security reasons.