Impacts of the Rohingya Refugee Influx on Host Communities
Integration of humanitarian efforts into longer-term development essential for Coxs Bazar
Nearly two years after the start of the massive Rohingya influx, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in association with the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh (PRI) and the local administration of Coxs Bazar unveiled the findings of a joint impact assessment study in the capital on July 25, 2019.
The report titled “Impacts of the Rohingya Refugee Influx on Host Communities” explores the socio- economic effect on host community, covering prices, wages and poverty incidence. It also discusses the impact on environment and livelihood. The study further explores the impact on public service, public goods delivery, social safety net and social cohesion in host communities.
The findings of the report emphasises that the stress resulting from such a huge influx has created the need for increased focus on host communities. The report advances a case for integrating humanitarian efforts into a longer-term development perspective for the whole district, that will benefit the local community as well as refugees, who in most likelihood will stay in the area for a protracted period.
The report suggests better coordination and collaboration among the government and agencies working in Coxs Bazar in widening livelihood support programmes for the host community.
“The findings of the impact assessment study will help the government and other development organisations including UN agencies to design longer-term development programmes in Coxs Bazar and Bandarban districts,” Foreign Minister A. K. Abdul Momen pointed out.
“We hope that it would allow us to adopt a robust mitigation strategy and action plan for maximising welfare of people from all spectrums in a larger area.”
“The massive influx of refugees immediately emerged as a severe humanitarian crisis, followed by a long-term development need for the host community in Coxs Bazar. This potentially offers an opportunity to build back better,” said Sudipto Mukerjee, Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh.
He further added, “It is needed to not only transition smoothly from the humanitarian phase to the post-crisis era but also to seize opportunities for: accelerated development; strengthened resilience and self-reliance; and for them to enjoy universal access to quality services, restored natural resources and decent livelihood opportunities. And for that displaced Rohingya women and men need to be equipped with essential skills.”
Chairperson of PRI, Dr Zaidi Sattar pointed out, “Bangladesh has done more than its share of providing a global public good.” He added that the Rohingya influx has impacted almost every aspect of life for the host community – prices of daily essentials have risen by 50 percent since the refugee influx, wages of day labourers have decreased, over 2500 households fell below the poverty line, and 5500 acres of reserved forests and 1500 hectares of wildlife habitat have been destroyed.
“The global community must continue their pressure on the Myanmar government for the safe, secure, and dignified repatriation of Rohingyas,” he concluded.
M A Razzaque, research director of PRI delivered the keynote presentation on the report, followed by a panel discussion with Dr C R Abrar, professor of international relations at Dhaka University, and Dr Meghna Guhathakurta, executive director of Research Initiatives, Bangladesh. Dr Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of PRI also spoke at the event among others.