Bangladesh: minorities increasingly at risk of displacement

Bangladesh: minorities increasingly at risk of displacement

The situation of displaced minorities in Bangladesh

This report looks at the trends and statistics of internal displacement in Bangladesh as a result of civil war and persecution of religious minorities. There is no national strategy to address the needs of the internally displaced in Bangladesh.

The documents finds that the largest occurrence of conflict-induced displacement is found in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in south-east Bangladesh, traditionally inhabited by 13 different groups of indigenous people collectively referred to as "Jumma". The root cause of displacement in the region derives from the politics of nation-building and ensuing conflicts between the minority and the majority population.

In terms of persecution of religious minorities, the paper found that persecution and communal violence against religious minorities – mostly Hindus – have seriously intensified after the 2001 elections when the BNP formed a four-party coalition government including two Islamic parties. Incidents against religious minorities have since escalated dramatically, often involving eviction and land grabbing.

The document makes a number of recommendations, including:

To the government of Bangladesh:

  • develop a National IDP Policy, including clear rehabilitation strategies that are in line with the UN Guiding Principles
  • seek technical support and training for an improved response to conflict-induced displacement at both local and state level
  • establish a government IDP focal point to coordinate and take action on IDP issues
  • launch an independent survey with the participation of the affected communities and in collaboration with international organisations with a view to establishing the number and identifying the particular protection and assistance needs of IDPs
  • systematically consult and include IDPs in decisions that affect their current and future situations.

To the United Nations in Bangladesh:

  • develop a strategy to address the internal displacement situation in Bangladesh that is in line with the UN Guiding Principles, if deemed necessary with support from OCHA’s Internal Displacement Division
  • establish an IDP coordination mechanism to ensure a coherent response to IDP issues
  • strengthen the capacity of the UN Country Team to collect IDP-specific information and to advocate for IDPs’ rights at various levels/

To donors:

  • support initiatives by the government and the international community that would increase awareness, protection and assistance for IDPs
  • raise the issue of internal displacement with the government and encourage and advocate for solutions
  • support projects that cater for the longer-term needs of IDPs and affected local communities, such as rehabilitation of facilities in education, health and water/sanitation.
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