Saturday, March 23, 2019 | ePaper

Rohingya rehabilitation to affect allocation of priority sectors

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EXPERTS have expressed apprehension that the Annual Development Budget for priority works such as health and education facilities would likely to be diverted for the rehabilitation of Rohingya refugees, as per news media. For that reason, allocations of many priority sectors, including the inclusion of 1,000 schools in the monthly payment order (MPO) system requiring Tk 4,000 crore, would be largely affected. The annual allocations to the Education and Technology Sector and the Health Sector remained static at around 16 per cent and five per cent respectively for many years due to fund crunch.  According to newspaper reports, Tk 2,312 crore will be needed to rehabilitate 103,200 Rohingyas in Bhashan Char's 120 cluster villages.
The government has already requested the World Bank to provide $400 million as grant for Rohingya rehabilitation, although, as per CPD, $882 million would be needed for Rohingya rehabilitation in the first 10 months, ending in June. It is anticipated that empathy towards the Rohingyas has decreased in absence of the aid inflows. Experts have already cautioned that international organizations' aid support to Rohingya refugees might not continue for long and the Bangladesh government would have to shoulder their full burden. The refugee burden will ultimately bring pressure on the country's job market. It would reduce workers' daily wages and increase the cost of living in the coming days in the Chattogram region unless they are repatriated quickly.
We know over 7 lakh Rohingyas were forcibly driven into Bangladesh by Myanmar's Security Forces since August 25 last year. They have taken shelter in many makeshift tents on hills and roadsides in Cox's Bazar district. About 6,000-acres of forest have been destroyed for making temporary shelters for them which means loss of timber worth Tk 1,000 crore. Continuing land degradation, soil erosion, extraction of underground water and waste management would add to the government's burden so long they stay in Bangladesh.
Undoubtedly, the Rohingyas have put huge pressure on our economy and society. We can't ignore the most persecuted people of the world but at the same time the world should extend their humanitarian cooperation in this regard. We think that the Bangladesh government must energise the Foreign Ministry to ensure sufficient international aid for the Rohingya people until and unless they are repatriated to their homeland as Myanmar citizens with dignity.

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