U.S, India promises aid to Rakhine State but Rohingya’s have demands

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illionIndia provides US$25 million aid for Rakhine state development for a five-year development project in Rakhine State, according to Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.

This, coupled with the American aid of U.S. 50 million, is the focus on the Rohingya diaspora in the Rakhine state.

The Indian aid will be spread over a 5-year development plan, with the state of Rakhine getting US$5 million per annum.

This is in accord with the Rakhine State Development agreement between Myanmar and Indian governments.

“The respective ministries will need to submit proposals as soon as possible to implement the projects in sectors such as education, health, agriculture, environment and cultural heritages, promoting of efficiency for women and caring of children,” said the communique.

However, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) is providing an additional $50 million in humanitarian assistance for vulnerable people fleeing the Rakhine State crisis.

This brings the United States’ response to the crisis in Burma and Bangladesh to more than $163 million since August 2017, and total humanitarian assistance for displaced people in and from Burma to more than $255 million since the start of FY 2017.

Nearly 700,000 people, mostly Rohingya women and children, have fled violence in Rakhine State, Burma since August.

The Unites States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) support to the Rohingya response in Cox’s Bazar.

It focuses on providing for the immediate needs of the refugees with life-saving food assistance, nutrition interventions for the severely malnourished, and logistics support for the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

However, the Rohingya community in Coz Bazar has established their own demands for their future return to their homeland.

They escaped a campaign of murder, repression and rape by Myanmar’s military and militant Buddhist monks. Now they await the political deal to allow a return to their homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. But will it happen?

From Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, and in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, special correspondent Tania Rashid and videographer Phillip Caller bring us the first of three reports.

Tania Rashid said these Rohingya refugees came out to show how tired they are of living in uncertainty. It’s been seven months since they fled for their lives from Myanmar into Bangladesh. They are fed up and have come out to protest for their safe return to Myanmar.

One Salahuddin, who is a schoolteacher says he fled Rakhine State with his family six months ago after his village was attacked.

“It is our country, and we have been living there for more than 1,000 years. And after years of slow genocide, we were finally forced to flee,” he said.

Now more than 1.2 million Rohingya live in the world’s largest refugee camp in cramped and squalid conditions on the edge of Cox’s Bazar. The repatriation was meant begin two months ago after a deal between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

And the Bangladeshi government is keen to speed things up, as they fear the upcoming monsoon could devastate the camps.

Abul Kalam, Bangladesh’s refugee relief and rehabilitation commissioner, is responsible for coordinating the repatriation.

“Repatriation process will certainly happen, based on the agreement reached two governments late last year. And preparatory works are ongoing now. I believe, as we are doing our part, they also are certainly doing their part,” says Kalam.

 

The Rohingya community has drawn up 13 demands that they want to be met before they agree to return.

For the repatriations to go ahead, the first thing we need is for U.N. peacekeepers to come with us, says another refugee.

“Secondly, the Myanmar government must give us back our citizenship rights. We are not asking for a new nationality.

“We have tons of proofs that we used to have Myanmar nationality. The Myanmar government must compensate us for everything we lost.

“We cultivated our land and built our homes with love, with our own hands. So we must be allowed go back to our own homes and villages,” he said.

But will the aid pouring in from the U.S., in particular, be put to good use for the refugees?

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