Canada Takes Lead in Resettling Rohingya Refugees
Originally from Myanmar (Burma), the ethnic minority and religiously Muslim Rohingyas faced repression in their homeland. In 1991 over 260000 Rohingya people fled dangerous conditions in their home country to camps in Bangladesh. While many from this group have since returned home, over 25000 of the refugees with more vulnerable situations remain in the camps run by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Canada has agreed to resettle a small group of these refugees, with plans for further groups later this year. Canada is the first country in the world to resettle these refugees who have been left in effect stateless.
Among the group that has been accepted to come to Canada the reaction was one of excitement, relief and gratitude at the opportunity to make a new life in Canada. "When we found out in Bangladesh that we were accepted to come to Canada, our happiness filled our bodies with energy," said Sayed Alum, a 22 year old member of the first group. The UNHCR who operate the camp were also appreciative of the leadership role being taken on by Canada. "We are grateful to Canada because until the resettlement of this group, the only solution open to Rohingyas was to return home” where they would face unbearable treatment, said Jahanshah Assadi, UNHCR Representative in Canada.
For a group of people living in refugee camps in Southern Bangladesh, the late arrival of the Canadian spring will mean a true fresh start in the spirit of the season. Canada is taking the initiative of opening its doors to a first group of Rohingya refugees living in UN camps in the southern tip of Bangladesh.