Refugees From Myanmar Pose Dilemma For World Conscience – OpEd

Around 270,000 Rohingya refugees are reported to have entered Bangladesh from Myanmar, in the wake of the ongoing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine province that has triggered an exodus of refugees. Some of the refugees have entered India also. More number of refugees are reported to be waiting to cross over.

Justifiably, Bangladesh is highly concerned about this influx of refugees, since Bangladesh itself has dense population and is an economically weak developing country. Bangladesh is well justified in expecting that the United Nations and other countries should interfere in the matter and ensure that the crisis in Myanmar would be sorted out immediately. So far, Bangladesh has handled the refugee influx situation with compassion and understanding but it has to necessarily make a choice between compassion and national security now.

The illegal immigrants and refugee issues have been creating problems for several countries. The United Nations, which has a separate section dealing with the refugee problems, cannot do anything worthwhile to find a lasting solution for this global issue.

Refugee crisis in Europe
A few months back when refugees started entering Europe in a big way from middle east countries and Africa, Europe was caught unaware with no strategy to face this grim issue. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel accepted the entry of refugees into Germany, saying that it would be a matter of compassion and human rights issue. With such tacid encouragement from the German chancellor, more refugees started flowing in from different countries such as distant Afghanistan.

After entering into Germany, many of the refugees have now placed themselves in other European countries also. With the entry of these refugees into Europe whose background and even nationality are not known in many cases and whose education and skill level are very poor compared to the European standards, Europe now has a huge problem on it’s shoulders, threatening to destabilize Europe and change the face of European life to some extent in the coming years apart from posing security threat. Social tension is already evident due to settlement of refugees in some pockets in Europe.

Anti-immigrant policy in USA
During the last Presidential election in the USA, Donald Trump advocated an anti-immigrant policy that received wide acceptance in the US and perhaps, this was the one big factor that catapulted Donald Trump to the post of US President. Now, he wants to construct a huge wall between USA and Mexico as a proof of his commitment to anti-immigrant policy.
Sri Lankan refugees in India
In Sri Lanka, at the time of the ethnic war between Sri Lankan government and the separatists, hundreds of Sri Lankans of Tamil origin left the country and reached India. They continue to stay in India for several years now , maintaining their refugee status and many of the Sri Lankan refugees in India born in the last few years have not seen Sri Lanka at all.

Tibetan refugees due to China’s oppressive action
Of course, one cannot forget that thousands of Tibetan refugees that left Tibet and entered India in the wake of the forced occupation of Tibet by China and now the Tibetan refugees have spread themselves around the world and are trying to integrate themselves into the mainstream of the countries to which they have migrated legally or illegally.

How long Canada’s refugee friendly policy?
Perhaps, Canada is the only country in the world today which is extending an almost open invitation to the migrants and refugees from across the world, calling it as its commitment to humanitarian and compassionate principles. As of now, Canada is able to adopt such policy as it is an under populated country with large land area and huge natural resources. However, even within Canada, there is emerging difference of opinion as to whether such receptive policies towards migrants and refugees should be continued to be adopted in Canada, as there are already indications that some of the migrants and refugees who have entered in recent times may have questionable background.

Whither Myanmar refugees in Bangladesh
The human rights activists around the world, who are mostly arm chair critics and commentators from the gallery, argue that the influx of refugees and migrants from one country to the other due to oppression and unsecured conditions should be viewed as a humanitarian problem and it will be cruel to drive them back with least consideration for their pitiable conditions.

The UN General Assembly that will convene on September 12 may adopt a motion condemning Myanmar’s actions for creating a situation that caused the exodus of Rohingya refugees. But, this will not help the cause of Bangladesh in tackling the present refugee issue, as most resolutions and recommendations of United Nations are not viewed seriously anymore by any country in the world.

The refugees from Myanmar pose a dilemma for the world conscience to judge as to whether Bangladesh should accept the refugees at the cost of it’s security. With no refugee problem having been solved conclusively in any part of the world, Myanmar refugees will remain as talking point for sometime for the global media, until the next refugee crisis would happen in any other part of the world.

(Author N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the “Nandini Voice for the Deprived,” a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.)

Your Responses