Bangladesh bans foreign charities helping Rohingya

France's Doctors without Borders, Action Against Hunger and Britain's Muslim Aid UK told to suspend services.

Afp August 02, 2012

DHAKA: Bangladesh has ordered three international charities to stop providing aid to Rohingya refugees who cross the border to flee persecution and violence in Myanmar, an official said Thursday.

France's Doctors without Borders (MSF) and Action Against Hunger (ACF) as well as Britain's Muslim Aid UK have been told to suspend their services in the Cox's Bazaar district bordering Myanmar, local administrator Joynul Bari said.

"The charities have been providing aid to tens of thousands of undocumented Rohingya refugees illegally. We asked them to stop all their projects in Cox's Bazaar following directive from the NGO Affairs Bureau," he told AFP.

Bari said the charities "were encouraging an influx of Rohingya refugees" from across the border in Myanmar's Rakhine state in the wake of recent sectarian violence that left at least 80 people killed.

The charities have provided healthcare, training, emergency food and drinking water to the refugees living in Cox's Bazaar since the early 1990s.

MSF runs a clinic near one of the Rohingya camp which provides services to 100,000 people.

Speaking a Bengali dialect similar to one in southeast Bangladesh, the Rohingyas are Muslims seen as illegal immigrants by the Buddhist-majority Myanmar government and many Burmese.

They are viewed by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.

Obaidur Rahman, country head of Muslim Aid UK in Bangladesh, confirmed to AFP that his group had stopped its Rohingya project following the order.

The government says some 300,000 Rohingya Muslims are living in the country, the vast majority in Cox's Bazaar, after fleeing persecution in Myanmar. About 30,000 are registered refugees who live in two camps run by the United Nations.

In recent weeks, Bangladesh has turned away boats carrying hundreds of Rohingya fleeing the violence in Myanmar despite pressure from the United States and rights groups to grant them refuge.

Myanmar security forces opened fire on Rohingya Muslims, committed rape and stood by as rival mobs attacked each other during the recent wave of sectarian violence, New York-based Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

The authorities failed to protect both Muslims and Buddhists and then "unleashed a campaign of violence and mass roundups against the Rohingya", the group said in a report.


GetReal | 11 years ago | Reply

Of course the refugees in this context will go to Bangladesh - in situations wherein there is a risk to personal security, people (being necessarily self-preserving animals) gravitate towards the most proximal border that they can to escape the conflict.

Having worked in Bangladesh for several years, I can assert that Bangladesh is insular, rife with corruption, completely irrational and reactionary from an international policy standpoint, and in general horrendously inefficient at all levels of their bureaucracy.

The government of Bangaldeshs' action to block NGOs from supporting the refugees under the auspice that 'the NGOs are providing an incentive for the refugees to cross the border' IE the refugees are less concerned with their personal security and well-being and more concerned about free food and medicine is typical narrow-minded idiocy that helps contribute to that country's persistent societal regression and inability to evolve from a patriarchal neo-autocracy fueled by petty jealously (BNP vs Awami - what a joke!), xenophobia, and sexism (this is the 21st century).

The humanitarian aid should be encouraged, not spurned - the rationale suggesting that 'Bangladesh can't manage their own refugees (think migrant workers stuck in Libya and all over the ME during the Arab Spring), how can they help with another country's?' is fallacious and moot. The UN and other NGOs have been helping stranded Bangladeshis when they have needed the assistance in the past (RECENT past too) - it is time for Bangladesh to realize that hypocrisy in policy and international interaction are inappropriate and unacceptable.

j. von hettlingen | 11 years ago | Reply

Bangladesh should appeal to the UN for help, if it can't cope with he influx of Muslim Rohingyas from Myanmar. Denying these wretched and stranded refugees help from outside is as cruel as what the Burmese armed forces had done to them.

Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ