Rohingya Crisis: Female Refugees, Reproduction and Beyond the Future

It is very hard to say when the Rohingyas may go back to their home they left years ago. The Rohingya influx in Bangladesh from Myanmar is not very new. Arguably five massive migrations happened in the past and the biggest one is in 2017.  The two others happened in 1976 and 1991-92. Though treaties and memorandums were signed to repatriate Rohingyas in 1976 and 1992, many Rohingyas never left Bangladesh due to insecurity and lack of proper documents. Many escaped from the camps and were never been traced again. From 2,00,00 in 1976 and 2,50,000 in 1992, more than 30,000 Rohingyas never went back, many escaped. In 2017, more than 9.50,000 Rohingyas came to Bangladesh. Many forgot that in 2012 more than 1,25,000 and in 2016, 75,000 Rohingyas took shelter in Bangladesh according to the UNHCR.

               Rohingyas came to Bangladesh because they were being repressed for decades and violence erupted upon them time to time in the Rakhaine state of Myanmar. Bangladesh is now hosting a nearly 1.2 million Rohingyas and many remain undocumented spreading to all over Bangladesh. We know, in every complicated, repressive and warlike situation, women are the easiest target. They suffer from the situation the most. No wonder, Rohingya women were not spared there. Rape, sexual violence against them became a potential weapon of repression. In the list of refugee influx in 2017, two-third of them was women. The bigger camps of Cox’s Bazar host more than 6,35,000 Rohingyas where women consist 3,35,670. Nearly twenty percent of Rohingya women are pregnant where nearly seventy thousand are pregnant or become a new mother.

               The rate of pregnancy is only four percent in the natives in Myanmar and 2.17 percent in Bangladesh. Few reasons should be mentioned for this anomaly. The first one is the female were main targets for the violence. The rate of violence is so big that the amount of pregnancy seems unrealistic. Secondly, Rohingyas are in general less educated and they have lack of sex education. Finally, Rohingyas are blindly religious and they think that increasing population will serve for the religion or the “Ummah”.

Whatever the reason is or are that does not support what they do after coming to the camps. Save the Children’s, a prominent NGO for monitoring the children of the third world and war torn countries are now monitoring the Rohingya children and the upcoming newborns. They estimated that since 2017, the number of newborn babies are more than 1,00,000. It is rising every day. It is estimated that nearly 60 babies are born every day and the number can rise to 22,000 per year. In the next five years nearly 1,35,000 new babies will be born. The number of Rohingyas are rising every day and will be nearly 1.5 million in next five years. So, what is now?

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the new born babies are not getting any citizenships of Bangladesh. They are not a citizen of any country until they return to their native country, Myanmar. Moreover if they stay in the camps for so long, they might not get proper education. The NGO’s might provide them primary school education. They might provide them the higher school education too. What is next? Can they start their education at Bangladeshi Universities? Even if it is considered, what is next? A journalist, Saidul Huq, a Rohingya born in Bangladesh, has never seen a life outside the camp. His parents had left Myanmar in 1991 before he was born. Since then he is living in the Kutupalang refugee camp. Though he has bacome a father of two, he sees no light of his children for the future. They might end up being in the refugee camp forever.

The world will not be supporting the Rohingyas forever, nor does the Bangladeshi government have that ability to that forever. The support for the refugee camps deceased 33-40%. For now, hopes to repatriate the Rohingyas seem blurred. The female refugees are still vulnerable, even in the camp. They are producing babies like there is no tomorrow without thinking of there is no tomorrow. The babies see the light of the sun; do not know what is waiting for them. As the Rohingyas do not have jobs and some of them is radicalized and some of them are linked to other terrorist outfits like the Arakan Salvation Army (ARSA), it will be easier to recruit the hopeless and jobless people under the terrorist outfit and start insurgency against the Bangladeshi authority and the Myanmar Army. Some might start committing petty crime, or may join bigger drug traffickers or mafia organizations. They might use extortion against the locals. The continuous fleeing from the camp might be a burden of Bangladesh and local workforce. Giving them citizenship too as Bangladesh is already facing overpopulation challenge. For the sake of the Rohingyas, before waiting for the repatriation, the education of reproduction and contraception guide should be provided. Burden should not be on Bangladesh nor be upon the newborn.