Latest statistics show that about five hundred thousand Rohingyas have been pushed into Bangladesh. Almost all of them are Muslims; a handful of them are Hindus.
The number of people displaced by cleansing operation constitutes about 40% of population of the Rakhine state. Nearly eighty per cent of the newly arrived are women and children, which means only 20% of male adults have joined the stream of refugees. The rest have either been killed or god knows what has happened to them.
It is claimed by Myanmar authorities that the so-called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) has attacked some of their police outposts. This should alert the Myanmar Government that there might be a grand design behind it and pushing of innocent Rohingya shall not solve the problem; rather, it will aggravate the problem. It is apprehended that most male Rohingyas have fled to the jungle or are waiting to be recruited by ARSA backed by some local or foreign forces. However, the players to the problem are not clearly visible and identified but time will tell the whole story, especially when there is a history of the effort of creating a Muslim buffer state with the Rohingyas in this region.
The Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have already created problems of food, shelter, medicare, water and sanitation. Natural abodes like hills are being destroyed to accommodate them which will have long lasting impact on the current population. The Rohingya people should also be clothed because many of them have come with single cloth. Their children need to be educated as and when time passes. The high fertility rate of their women will inflate our population with apparent drainage on our limited resources and ultimately will throw a challenge to this emerging middle income country, unless this exodus is not arrested immediately and the problem is not settled quickly.
The problem will linger if China, Russia and India don’t act. Each of them, especially China or India, has multi-faceted interest. The USA appears to be with Myanmar for its dream of discovering a democratic country previously ruled by the military. Thus, the noticeable stand of USA is probably the tip of the ice-berg. The whole of the ice-berg will be visible soon if US steps into the stage by siding with the Rohingya Muslims in any manner. If the problem is not resolved quickly, this will also provide a fertile ground for ISIS, IS, Al Qaida and other Islamic forces to act. These forces are waiting to act if minimum local support will become discernable, and utilise the displaced Rohingyas for their evil design. The Islamic fighters may find a virgin ground to organise. Big powers may ride on them and reach the desired destination even by convincing Saudi Arabia and its allies. The battle field may extent to the Bay of Bengal. And thus the safe economic zones for China and India will become a highly tumultuous zone incapable of sustaining mostly the Chinese and Indian investment.
Alternatively, all by ganging up or acting alone may create a land strip for the Rohingyas. One million Rohingyas are a big number to organise to fight Myanmar and to create an uncongenial situation for the Buddhist minorities who have concentrated above in the hilly region of the country. These might create racial and religions tensions unless the refugees and their patrons inside and outside act judicially. The extreme that may happen is the creation of a belt with the support of some Arab or western countries for the Rohingyas. This will provide them with an entry, capture of the arms market in this region and allow them to set foot to drive out China, if not India. Russia with tacit support to Myanmar is equally aiming at poking nose with the ultimate objective of grabbing Myanmar’s resources.
Thus, Myanmar’s resources are going to decide the fate of the Rohingyas. Therefore, they are required to act promptly. This is our high hope. We should be alert and avoid any kind of armed conflict with Myanmar and depend on lobbying to bring Myanmar to the discussion table. We have this viable option left.
Already, the Bangladesh Prime Minister has given 5 point charter of demand to the general assembly. This is also to alert the world about the gravity of the situation. But, we must continue rigorously the diplomatic campaign to win over China and India who hold the trump cards in resolving the issue quickly. The sooner the Rohingyas are taken back by Myanmar, the better it is for Bangladesh-Myanmar and for the world peace in general.
The writer is a Freedom Fighter and Vice Chancellor of World University