Basic facts of Rohingya people world over include total population of 1,547,778–2,000,000 spread over 18 countries to include: 1) Myanmar (Rakhine State former Arakan); 2) Bangladesh; 3) Pakistan; 4) Saudi Arabia; 5) Malaysia; 6) UAE; 7) India; 8) United States; 9) Thailand; 10) Australia; 11) China; 12) Indonesia; 13) Japan; 14) Nepal; 15) Canada ; 16) Ireland 107; 17) Sri Lanka; and 18) Finland.
In the light of the above background data, few key issues are reviewed for the benefit of intellectuals and pseudo human rights activists to include: “What are the number of Rohingya Refugees in the 18 countries?”; “Why only 5 Islamic nations in the World are in the forefront of hosting Sunni Rohingya people in their backyards?”; “Considering the density of population in various countries, why those nations with barely double digit densities are not hosting more Rohingya peoples/refugees?”; and so, “Why Media Raucous on Rohingya Refugees in India?”
As of 2019 (World Bank), the State of Myanmar had a total population of 54 million people. Out of these 54 million, about 1.3 million people are Rohingya live in Myanmar. Following the persecution during 2015 several Rohingya groups have fled to neighboring states of Bangladesh and India.
During the Rohingya genocide in 2015-2017, over 1,300,000 fled to Bangladesh out of an estimated 1.4 million Rohingya living in Myanmar by March 2018. Furthermore, the refugees also fled to other countries to include: Pakistan – 500,000 (September 2017); Malaysia – 150,000 (October 2017); UAE 50,000 (December 2017); India – 40,000 (September 2017); China – 3,000 (October 2014); Saudi Arabia – 190,000 (January 2017); United States 12,000+ (September 2017); Thailand 5,000 (October 2017); Australia 3,000 (October 2018); China 3,000 (October 2014); Indonesia 1,000 (October 2017); Japan – 300 (May 2018); Nepal 200 (September 2017); Canada 200 (September 2017); Ireland 107 (December 2017); Sri Lanka – 36 (June 2017); and Finland 11 (October 2019).
In Bangladesh by end-March 2022, there were over 926,500 Rohingya refugees living in the Cox’s Bazaar area (UNHCR, 2021), including 22,780 living on Bhasan Char island. It raises the issues that “Where have the remaining nearly 348,000 Rohingya refugees relocated”?
According to the Indian Home Ministry and Reuters, an estimated 40,000 Rohingya are in India, at least 20,000 of who are registered with UNHCR. Out of 6000 Rohingya people in Hyderabad-Telangana in refugee camps in the city’s Balapur area, 4,000 of them have found a home in Hyderabad. This means that several Rohingya within India are living elsewhere in other States in protracted refuge conditions and continue to be stateless and status less.
Next, the pertinent issue to review is “Why only 5 Islamic nations in the World are in the forefront of hosting Sunni Rohingya people in their backyards?” After all, there are currently 56 countries that are members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in which Islam plays a significant role. These are countries with Islam as the state religion, but also those in which Muslims form the majority of the population. Most of these countries are located primarily in North Africa, the Near East, and South Asia. Together they cover an area of 31.66 m km² with a population of about 1.92 bn. This corresponds to about 24.56% of the world’s population. And, the petro-rich West Asian and Central Asian countries with very low population densities surely can absorb them for their economic advantage as cheap labor.
That brings to the next key issue for review that is, considering the density of population in various countries, why those nations with barely double digit densities are not hosting more Rohingya peoples/refugees?
230 countries data of size, population and density are available in public domain. India is at 32 rank of very high density mark. Already over stretched or overburdened with population beyond its economic sustaining capabilities with population at 140.7 crores and density of 428 /km². Many homeless can be seen sleeping under the flyways and Hume Pipes in cities and under temporary low roof plastic covers on roadsides.
In contrast, there are over 130 countries whose density of population is below 100/km² that includes the two Super Powers – USA and China – and the continent of Australia and Canada as developed nations: US – 35 crores and density of 35/km²; China 142.5 crores and 149/km²; Australia – 2.61 crores with density of 3/km²; and, Canada – 3.8 crores and density 4/km². Add to them, Russia with 144.7 crores and density of 8/km².
Furthermore, the key Islamic nations data include: Turkey – 84 crores population with density of 108/km²; Saudi Arabia – 3.64 crores with density of 17/km²; Iran (Shia) – 8.8 crores with density of 54/km²; Kazakhstan – 19 crores population with a sparse density of 7/km²; Kyrgyzstan – 6.5 crores and density of 33/km²; Uzbekistan – 3.46 crores with density of 77/km²; Tajikistan – 99 lakhs with density of 70/km²; and Turkmenistan – 64.3 lakhs with density of 13/km²; and so on. All of them are oil and gas rich nations. Surely, they are capable of hosting the Rohingya refugees.
Add to them other Islamic nations to include: Pakistan – 23.58 crores with density of 267/km²; Egypt – 11.09 crores with density of 111/km²; Malaysia- 3.39 crores and density of 103/km²; Iraq – 4.4 crores with density of 102/km²; Morocco- 37.45 lakhs with density of 84/km²; Sudan 4.68 crores with density of 25/km²; Niger – 2.62 crores with density of 21/km²; and other North African nations with low densities.
Also, add to them the petro-rich Gulf nations to include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with low population densities. Not to be left out of consideration are the other nations like Brazil with less than 25/km² population density besides other Latin American countries.
Not to be left out of consideration is Mongolia – 33.98 crores population with density of 2/km² – one of the lowest.
Viewed in the background of data reviewed, there is hardly any justification for the so called “Indian Human Rights Activists and the Left Liberals” and even the pseudo intellectuals to cry hoarse and playing vicious politics over the Rohingya refugees to score brownie points.
Thus, the vicious politics played out in the media and the accompanying pernicious fallout on the psyche of impressionable minds is most despicable and uncalled for. And, the so called pseudo secularists and champions of human rights blame the BJP government for its failure to provide protection and assistance to Rohingya people which is mandatory international obligation and responsibility primarily on grounds of religion and in-line with Indian state’s growing discrimination and persecution of its own Muslim minorities.
Let me also highlight that India is neither a Party to the 1951 Refugee Convention nor the 1967 Refugee Protocol. Of course, India is signatory to several core treaties which requires states to ensure access to basic human rights and human dignity for all and provide basic protection to people seeking asylum in India: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Most importantly, in 2015, the BJP led government altered the Passport Act, 1967 and the Foreigners Act, 1946 to exclude people belonging to Muslim community to enter India without passport or in search of asylum. The 2019 amendment through the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) reiterates the position of Indian government from 2015. Some are fleeing back to Myanmar and few others are getting converted to Christianity.
My observation is simple. Why the criticism is focused on blaming the Modi-led BJP government? Why Modi-led NDA government is on the back foot in international forums? Why is India not moving the 40,000 Rohingya refugees to either Myanmar or Bangladesh or demand the UNHCR to move them to other cash-rich Muslim nations?
Ipso facto, India is in the midst of Islamist surge – a communal cauldron. And, the Islamist radicals can recruit the refugees to carryout terror related activities. In retrospect, they are a national security threat.
Next, Why not the pseudo secularists and human right champions blame the UNHCR for not blaming over 50 Islamic countries – many of them petro-dollar rich having low population densities – to host and protect the Rohingya refugees. In particular, near-by Muslim countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. Why no one is pointing a finger at Central Asiatic Republics, China and Outer Mongolia for not hosting Rohingya Muslim brothers and sisters?
Instead of vicious political squabbling primarily meant to appease local Muslims, all political parties without exception to include the BJP, the Congress Party, the AAP and all other parties, must wake up to realities and stop playing politics using the Rohingya refugees to consolidate their respective vote banks, they must act in unison act to bring pressure on the UNHCR and other international organizations – human rights civic activists NGOs – to facilitate moving the 40,000 Rohingya refugees to other Muslim nations and also to those cash-rich nations like USA, China, And other developed nations.