The Bangladesh government just announced it will build the world’s largest refugee camp by extending beyond the existing Kutupalong camp. They would use 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres/4.6 square miles) of land to house 800,000 people. To show the scale of what they’re proposing, the city of McAllen, Texas with a population of 130,000 people is built on 12,000 hectares (29,500 acres/46 square miles). It’s not workable, not to mention civilized, to expect nearly a million people to live in such close quarters even in these miserable little tarp tents. Where will they put the port-au-potties, the field hospitals, the food kitchens, the playgrounds? What about schools & places to pray?
It’s likely most Rohingya refugees want to return home when the Burmese junta & nationalist death squads have been defeated. But that won’t be for a while. Meanwhile, they cannot live in this kind of squalor. They want their children to have a human life & a chance in life. Bangladesh prevents most from registering for chump change aid from UNHCR, & doesn’t allow them education, the right to work even in those lousy sweatshops, or free movement. We need to demand they have the right to asylum with full rights in whichever country they want to go & that means providing a safe & comfortable way to get there. Nothing is too good for a people who have been put through such hell. The demand for refugee rights is essential right along with the demand to end the genocide.
These new Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh will be living in this kind of hellhole for a long time unless we unite & stand with them to demand they be treated like human beings.
(Photo from the Guardian)