close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
 
January 18, 2021

Fragile lives

Editorial

 
January 18, 2021

The lives of refugees are always in peril. This was highlighted in southeast Bangladesh, at the town of Cox’s Bazaar, when a fire broke out at the camp, destroying some 500 shacks and leaving at least 2000 Rohingya refugees homeless. The fire is believed to have been started by a gas cylinder used at the camp to cook food. Most of the homes of the refugees in the area were made from timber and other inflammable materials, such as cardboard, which can be destroyed within seconds by a fire. There were no deaths, but at least 10 refugees were injured.

The area houses tens of thousands of refugees in camps, with some having fled the most recent purge of the Rohingya in their native Myanmar under a campaign of ethnic cleansing, and others who fled previously after the military regime in Myanmar, notably in 2017, targeted the Rohingya community on the basis of their opposition to the regime, and also their religion and ethnicity. The latest fire is also the latest tragedy to hit the group. Many Rohingya had walked for days to reach safety in the first place. They now find that the place where they live is not secure either. The fate of other refugees around the world is very similar. It is up to the world to do more for the Rohingya and other such refugees. The Rohingya, however, are particularly vulnerable – in the sense that most of them have found shelter in Bangladesh, a country which itself is economically deprived and not in a strong position to support refugees who need not only physical support in the form of shelter and food but also emotional support, given the trauma they and their families have suffered in their native country. In addition to this, they need schooling and healthcare as well as other means to meet basic needs.

The fire was put out by Bangladeshi forces who moved into the area and district officials say every effort will be made to make the camp safer. This, though, is not an easy task. The fragile nature of the shelter means that the Rohingya have little chance of being safe until they can move into something they can call permanent housing. So far, they have been provided tarpaulins to try and rebuild what they can of their houses. This is obviously not enough. They also need to rebuild their lives. And this will take a far, far longer period of time. For them, much time has already been lost and they can barely afford to spend more months or more years in refugee camps aware that they cannot return to the homes they have known for generations.