Forced Migration of Rohingya: An Untold Experience

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Ontario International Development Agency, Canada, 2018 - Forced migration
"The mass exodus of Rohingya people from Myanmar in 2017 has been recognised as the fastest growing refugee influx in the world and these refugees are currently living in the most densely populated camps in the world in Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh. The long-standing, recurring crackdowns have left an estimated population of only 200,000 in Myanmar of an estimated 2.4 million Rohingya across the world. The recent mass exodus has been described by United Nation’s officials as a classic case of ethnic cleansing (Washington Post, October 12, 2017) and a hallmark of genocide (CNN, March 13, 2018). Alongside humanitarian urgencies, there are numerous challenges, including human rights, legal and geopolitical issues, and economic and environmental implications. Thus, the Rohingya Crisis demands multiple and multidimensional approaches to help Rohingya people with immediate rehabilitation and finding a sustainable solution through repatriation to Myanmar. This current report presents the findings of an international collaborative research effort that entailed interviewing 3,300 Rohingya households living in the makeshift camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The report investigates various dimensions of the life of Rohingya people in Myanmar and the extent and nature of atrocities experienced in Myanmar. This report also provides the socio-political and cultural contexts of Rohingya people and their experiences before fleeing to Bangladesh. One of the major contributions of this report is revealing the types and extent of long-term social, economic and political exclusion that Rohingya people faced at a community and national level in Myanmar. This project investigates the socio-political and cultural context of Rohingya people and their experiences before fleeing to Bangladesh. It investigates the socio-economic lives of Rohingya people, and the emergence of various issues connected with short- and long-term rehabilitation and resettlement in Bangladesh. The project examines ethnicity and preservation of cultural heritage, their sources or earning and the levels of economic activities of Rohingya people in the Bangladesh camps. It also documents the health and wellbeing of Rohingya refugees living there. One of the major contributions of this project is to record the responses and reactions of Rohingya people about the repatriation process, and possible compensation for their losses before returning to Myanmar. This research utilised a researcher-constructed semi-structured interview guide and a qualitative interview guide for primary data collection. The findings reveal far greater incidence of murder, rape, beatings and gunshot wounds experienced by Rohingya people in the August 2017 incident before fleeing to Bangladesh that has been reported previously. Crimes against property in terms of houses burned down, crops and businesses damaged and theft are also estimated at levels above those previously reported. Most respondents wanted to return as soon as possible to Myanmar, but wanted citizenship to be granted to them and for perpetrators of crimes to be prosecuted first. The key findings of the research, based on 650,000 refugees, are as follows: 93 per cent reported experiencing discrimination in Myanmar. 97 per cent of participants reported witnessing their neighbours being injured by Myanmar authorities. 82 per cent of participants reported witnessing their neighbours’ death or saw dead bodies in Myanmar before fleeing. 59 per cent of participants reported witnessing neighbours who had been victims of rape by Myanmar authorities. 85 per cent of participants reported witnessing the burning down of their own or neighbours’ homes. When family members are included, an estimated 115,000 Rohingya were beaten by Myanmar authorities. When family members are included, an estimated 42,000 Rohingya received gunshot wounds. An estimated 35,000 Rohingya people were thrown into fire. An estimated 24,800 Rohingya people were murdered. An estimated 18,500 women and adolescents were raped. 52 per cent of the refugees eat two types of food only within the Camp (generally rice and a vegetable) and may suffer malnutrition due to inadequate food intake. Over 79 per cent were willing to return to Myanmar as soon as possible. Over 96 per cent demanded recognition of Rohingya ethnicity or citizenship by the Myanmar Government as a precondition for their repatriation to Myanmar. These findings reveal a high level of atrocities perpetrated against Rohyinga. They suffered killings much higher than numbers reported to date by other sources and hence demand further examination, including a credible and independent investigation. This project is conducted by a research consortium consisting of academics and practitioners from Australia, Canada and Norway and national and international institutional partners, namely ASA Philippines Foundation, Ontario International Development Agency, Institution of Diploma Engineers Bangladesh (IDEB), Education for Skill Development (ESD) and Film for Peace Foundation (F4P)"--Abstract.

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