Reuters’ coverage of the Rohingya genocide & refugee crisis has been deplorable but their recent article on child labor among refugees in Bangladeshi camps takes the cake for contemptible. It’s titled “$6 for 38 days work: Child exploitation rife in Rohingya camps” & manages to blame child labor primarily on Rohingya parents. The article claims they’ve done interviews with Rohingya refugees but they don’t appear to have gotten off their asses to really investigate what’s going on beyond a few phone calls to UN officials, most of whom are just as clueless & many of whom are completely compromised.
Of course Rohingya children are working in & outside the camps & of course this is appalling exploitation. Worse than that, they are subject to violence, including rape. But why Reuters finds this shocking is curious when Bangladeshi economics are rooted in sweatshop economics & child labor. According to the central bank, the ratio of millionaires & billionaires has tripled in the past decade based on the exploitation of child & sweatshop labor. But then when it comes to Rohingya refugees, Bangladesh has plumbed the depths of child exploitation. The government has made it extremely difficult for refugees to register for UNHCR benefits, paltry as they are, leaving tens of thousands with no means of support. It denies access to legal work for Rohingya adults & education to children beyond primary schooling. If Rohingya parents send their little kids out to work, it is based on necessity, not parental irresponsibility.
In the article, Reuters says that based on UN interviews with refugees, “life in the refugee camps is hardly better than it is in Myanmar for Rohingya children.” Consider that. Rohingya parents think life in Bangladeshi refugee camps “is hardly better” than living in Burma where they are under threat of genocide.
The response Reuters should be making to this horrific situation is investigative reporting on the lack of refugee rights in Bangladesh. It should show some elementary human decency by telling the truth about genocide in Burma instead of talking through its ass about Suu Kyi & the fictional civilian government. It might even suggest–we wouldn’t dream of saying “objective” media should demand–that other governments provide immediate & massive humanitarian aid to the refugees so that their kids don’t have to work. Or does that sound too much like socialism to them?
The photo is a very stressed little Rohingya refugee boy. The last thing this child needs is to go to work where he may be abused or violated. He needs food, housing, healthcare, education, social services. That he doesn’t have any of that is the fault of governments, not his parents.
Stand with the Rohingya people in demanding the end of genocide & full human, democratic, civil, & refugee rights.