Update: the Rohingya Crisis

Emergency food drinking water and shelter to help people displaced in Rakhine State western Burma. 8288488088

South and Central Asia Desk

Written by: Tasnim Islam, Yale ’22

Following the genocide and other human rights violations committed by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya, over 700,000 Rohingya were displaced to refugee camps in Bangladesh in late 2017. With Bangladesh’s economic, social, and political states suffering due to the rise of Rohingya refugees, it is becoming increasingly important to find a long-term solution for the current displaced status of the Rohingya. The initial plan to resolve this crisis began with the repatriation agreement in early 2018 which sought to return the displaced Rohingya back to Myanmar. To this date, however, this agreement has remained unsuccessful to execute as the traumatized Rohingya do not want to return to a state that is both unwilling to guarantee their safety and acknowledge the human rights violations committed against them.

With no sustainable solution in sight, the Rohingya has remained in Bangladesh for over two years and their presence has contributed to increasing political tensions and safety concerns of the nation. Although the Myanmar government attributes the ethnicity of the Rohingya to be that of Bangladeshis, Bangladeshis generally attribute the Rohingya as foreigners with an unwelcomed presence in their nation. With recent upticks in crimes, drug smuggling, sex trafficking, and fear of radical Islamic terrorism both in and outside of the camps, this sentiment has significantly increased with Bangladesh now fearing that the Rohingya will never leave. Recently, the rise of security concerns led to the Bangladesh government banning cellphone service to the refugee camps in Cox Bazaar and even proposing to implement barbed-wire fencing around the camps to stop their expansion. Thus, with time it is becoming increasingly unlikely that Bangladesh sees itself as having the responsibility of providing necessities and a home to the Rohingya. 

In Bangladesh’s most recent annual address to the UN General Assembly, prime minister Sheikh Hasina urges the international community to help rectify its four-point proposal to create a sustainable solution for the Rohingya. The proposal essentially demands that the Myanmar government sustainably reintegrate the Rohingya back to Myanmar, discard its discriminatory laws against the Rohingya, and be willing to provide full citizenship to them. Since Myanmar is currently unwilling to agree to meeting these requirements, Hasina urges the international community to pressure Myanmar to acknowledge their part in causing genocide and to sustainably repatriate them under the conditions listed. Even though Hasina believes that this can be done if the international community possibly imposes an arms embargo and tougher sanctions against Myanmar, many major players in the international community (e.g. China, Russia, Japan) have yet to criticize Myanmar for its human rights violations due to their economic interests in the nation. According to Hasina, Bangladesh does not have the resources or infrastructure to continue dealing with this crisis. She believes that since this crisis has been caused by the Myanmar government, it is the responsibility of the Myanmar government to solve, which is why the international community must pressure Myanmar to meet this four-point proposal and provide a home for the displaced population they created.  

Works Cited

“Despite Grappling with Rohingya Crisis, Bangladesh Is ‘Development Miracle’ | UN News.” United Nations, United Nations, 27 Sept. 2019, news.un.org/en/story/2019/09/1048002.

Islam, Arafatul. “Rohingya Support Bangladeshi Leader’s Proposal to End Crisis: DW: 28.09.2019.” DW.COM, 28 Sept. 2019, www.dw.com/en/rohingya-support-bangladeshi-leaders-proposal-to-end-crisis/a-50624711.

Mathieson, David Scott. “The Rohingya’s Right of No Return.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 24 Sept. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/09/24/opinion/rohingya-refugees-myanmar-return-bangladesh.html.

Tharoor, Ishaan. “Analysis | The Rohingya Crisis Can’t Stay Bangladesh’s Burden, Prime Minister Says.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 30 Sept. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/09/30/rohingya-crisis-cant-stay-bangladeshs-problem-prime-minister-says/.