Income Generating Activities for the Rohingyas: Transforming burden into resource

 “To be called a Refugee is the opposite of an insult; it is a badge of strength, courage and victory.”

The globe is now impregnated with 22.5 million refugees along with 65.6 million forcibly and internally displaced people and 10 million stateless people. Being stateless is the biggest violation of human rights itself, as article 15 of the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights-1948’ as well as Article- 8(1) and 9 of ‘The Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness-1961’ have ensured ‘Right to Nationality’. This is the story of stateless people, whereas the Refugees and Internally Displaced people are in more vulnerable situations. The most vulnerable of them are not even compassing appropriate security and protection let alone the available means to earn a livelihood. Article 17 of ‘The Refugee Convention 1951’ has driven the contracting states to provide the refugees with wage-earning employment, and Article 3 of ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948’ has ensconced the security of a person irrespective of identity.

Despite these solemn directions of International conventions, the condition of refugees, IDPs and stateless people still stands tantamount. Millions of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Rwanda and Myanmar are starving under solemn menace to life in the refugee camps of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Kenya and Bangladesh respectively. These countries are grappling to secure the refugees with basic amenities, but flinch to meet the degree levied by various international conventions due to repugnant situations and deficient policymaking.

Bangladesh has been riding the same horse after the biggest ‘Rohingya Exodus’ owing to the atrocities carried out by Myanmar government in the recent times. Bangladesh has endeavored to foster the connectivity among the countries having regional relation through BCIM, a community of Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar as well as BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative of Multi-Pectoral, Technical and Economic Cooperation) to boggle sustainable developments of the refugees. Till the resettlements of the refugees, Bangladesh a developing country with its weak economic condition having a GDP of 7.11 has to provide them with basic necessities, which is a herculean task for a country like Bangladesh. But the question is, whether Bangladesh can suffice to provide basic needs 0.61 million refugees out of nothing without any policy or regulation.

To address this predicament, Bangladesh may adopt some of the policies from the countries like Germany; a country which has engulfed refugees from 5 different countries and maintaining them tactfully and strategically. Germany being a signatory to ‘The Convention relating to Status of Refugees-1951’ has adopted the objectives of the convention on German Laws. The definition of Refugees enumerated in the aforesaid Convention’s Article-1 (A) was inherited in Section 3 of German Asylum Act-2008’ (amended in 2016 by the Federal Law Gazette). The German government has two special Acts i.e. The Residence Act 2008 and The Asylum Act 2008 of Germany particularly purveying to administer and safeguard the refugees staying in their country. ‘Asylum Act’ deals with granting and denial of the refugees and ‘Residence Act’ deals with the entry, exit, stay and employment of the foreigners in general. In Germany, who are being recognized as refugees achieve a three-year residence permit through which they come under the apt supervision of the government. As they remain registered with the identity inflicted by the German government, they can avail employment facilities to support and assist themselves. Side by side, following the ‘Naturalization by Entitlement’ process of the German government, they get oriented with the German laws; which give them strong senses to follow the laws of that country. The refugees are being surrounded by the invisible chains that have been imposed by the German government as well as surviving with their own endeavors to impregnate themselves with fundamental necessities.

Furthermore, the quandary of how Bangladesh Government will preserve 0.61 million Rohingyas with fundamentals right is yet to be settled. A country can’t feed more than half a million people with emotions. Laws must be impending and prevalent enough to acknowledge those refugees and permit them to stay with the means of supporting themselves with employment. As Bangladesh has unemployment problems with an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent and as they are alien to the country they may not avail the fields of formal sectors of employment. The best Bangladesh can do is to purvey the Rohingyas the means to engage themselves in ‘Income Generating Activities’ (IGA).

IGAs are the activities by which small groups engage themselves to generate livelihood from diversified spheres, i.e. cultivating lands, Poultry-farming, Hatchery etc. to conserve themselves with a minimum standard of livelihood and to shift the burden towards them rather carried by the Government. At the first instance, Bangladesh may increase protective services through registering them and provide them registration cards to enable them the right to movement as ensured in Article 13 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights following the directions of ‘Bangladesh Citizenship Bill 2016’ which was passed by the parliament in February, 2016 but yet to be applied. Bangladesh has initiated registering the refugees through biometric registration, a noteworthy preclusive sooth to speak. Security Inspectors shall be assigned with the collaboration of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Rohingyas should get oriented with the laws of the country to ensure that they don’t violate the laws. Then it can create and elevate the fields of IGAs best accommodating with the economy and environment of Bangladesh. Further, they may be allocated with the facilities of micro-credits and small enterprises with the cooperation of UNHCR and Non-Governmental Organizations to avail the periphery of Income Generating Activities.

It is expected that the Government of Bangladesh would initiate community dialogue programs to increase social cohesion between the refugees and local communities to ensure the free flow of the activities, which will help to increase socio-economic integration too. Besides, the government shall strengthen the related administrative and executive institutions, training staffs of government, advocacy groups, and Non-Governmental agencies and Human Rights bodies to effectively implement abovementioned expedients. Moreover, every human being deserves a better life and livelihood irrespective of nationality and identity. To ensure a progressive and sustainable life for the Rohingyas, Bangladesh with other International agencies may work by forming proficient policies to ascertain livelihood and protection for them till the resettlement.

First Published at: Future Law Initiative

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