Experts at an e-symposium on Thursday said the lockdowns and economic slowdown for Covid-19 pandemic in different countries have robbed Rohingya refugee communities further of their livelihood opportunities and pushed them into hunger and malnutrition.
They made these remarks at an e-symposium titled ‘Hunger, Exploitation, Hate Crime and Xenophobia! Rohingyas on Land and at Sea’ organised by Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) in collaboration with Free Rohingya Coalition.
Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately harmed refugees, asylum seekers and stateless people and Rohingya refugee communities in different nationals are no exception, they said. The pandemic has also exposed them to exploitation, hate and xenophobia.
They urged the international community, particularly the UN and powerful states to take effective actions to create enabling conditions for Rohingya repatriation under protected conditions.
Attending the e-symposium, leaders of various organisations urged the UN and international community to take actions to see that Myanmar abides by the ICJ directive to stop its genocidal acts against the Rohingya.
Participants urged the international community to ensure Myanmar pays appropriate reparations to the countries that are adversely affected by refugee flows.
They also demanded coastal states of Andaman Sea and South China Sea to immediately allow the drifting boats to dock.
Speakers also noted that there is an urgent need for states and donors to recognise the Rohingya community’s agency and create opportunities for self-empowerment and entrepreneurship.
Sharifa Shaqira of Rohingya Women Development Network based in United States, Sujauddin Karimuddin, a Rohingya Community leader in Australia, Indian cultural activist Ali Johar, Hafsar Tamisuddin, Rohingya gender activist based in New Zealand, and Nay San Lwin, Coordinator of Free Rohingya Coalition based in Germany attended the e-Symposium which was moderated by Dr C R Abrar of RMMRU.
Sharifa Shaqira said Rohingyas are being forced to take help of traffickers to escape the atrocious conditions at home.
Ali Johar said in the absence of education, an entire generation of Rohingya will grow up illiterate becoming a burden on the host society.
Rohingya community leader Sujauddin Karimuddin said “Being refugees is not our choice; circumstances compel us to move to other lands”.
Hafsar Tamisuddin, Rohingya gender activist based in New Zealand, said “what we need is support, not charity.”
Nay San Lwin regretted that the UN mandated agency UNHCR in most cases failed to provide adequate protection to refugees and ensure their rights as refugees.
Dr C R Abrar of RMMRU, said there is little likelihood that the UN Security Council will take action against the rogue Burmese state; therefore the onus lies on powerful states to impose sanctions on Myanmar.
He also called for global civil society to stand in solidarity with Rohingyas to establish their rightful claims to Myanmar citizenship.