Narinjara News


Forgotten Burmese Refugees in Dhaka


Dhaka, June 20: Even though Burmese Refugees in Thailand are mow resettling in other countries such as the United States of America, 100 Arakanese refugees from Buma living in Dhaka are faced with a grim future since the UNHCR cut their monthly financial assistance.


“Monthly assistances for my wife and daughter are cut from this month on.  How can we survive?  But I can understand why the UNHCR cut the monthly grant,” said a Burmese refugee.


Burmese refugees would no longer get the monthly assistance, but they will be able to get a financial grant for project to make a livelihood. The amount of the grant depends upon the proposed project, but the largest has been 35,000 taka (US$ 600). However, normally a grant is around 15,000 taka.


The monthly assistance is 1300 taka (US$ 25) a month per dependent of a family, but it is cut after six months of receiving it.


“Single women are also told to find projects. Even men can’t do anything, it’s a lot worse for women. There is a cultural impingement upon a single woman working in Bangladesh. Even Bangladeshis are going overseas to work, how can a foreigner find a job here?” said another refugee.


Most families who took up lump sum grants for a small business were facing losses. It is due to the fact that refugees cannot speak the local language, hence they face difficulties in communication. At the same time, their investment money is too little to compete with the local businesses.


While the Burmese refugees in Bangladesh are facing difficulties to survive, there has not been any prospect of resettlement in a third country like their fellow countrymen in Thailand.


“We all are from Burma, and we all are refugees running away from the evil of SPDC, the Burmese junta. But those in Bangladesh are still not getting any of our rights. I hope the world would realize how hard it is for a refugee to survive in Bangladesh,” said the refugee advocate, U Saw Raza, the director of newly formed Working Committee for Demonstration Restoration in Burma (WCDRB).


In Bangladesh, there are thousands of Arakanese refugees fleeing from their home land since the 1988 junta coup de tat, only about 100 are recognized as “refugees” by the UNHCR, and most of them are been neglected by the international community.#


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