Rohingya Refugee Crisis

Over 25,000 people have been taken to boats in the mass migration of the Rohingya refugees crisis in Myanmar.

Key Actors:

  • Rohingya People – Muslim ethnic minority group resigning in the western state of Rakhine, Myanmar; they practice a variation of the Sunni religion
  • Myanmar Government – Currently led by Aung Suu Kyi, they do not recognize the Rohingya as an ethnic group
  • UNHCR – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; a United Nations programme that works to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people

What is the Rohingya refugee crisis?

Since 2015, Myanmar’s government forces have been carrying out campaigns of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims. Over half a million Rohingya have fled to neighboring countries such as Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand by boat to escape mass killings, sexual violence, arson, and other atrocities committed against them. Satellite images have shown Rohingya villages being burned down continuously, and refugees reportedly tell stories of brutal beatings and gang rape happening even to children. Despite the extensive evidence and witness accounts, military officials routinely deny that these abuses have occured.  

Who are the Rohingya?

The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar’s largely Buddhist state, numbering about 1 million people. The Myanmarese government refuses to recognize them as citizens or as one of the 135 recognized ethnic groups in the country, but rather views them as illegal immigrants, stating they entered through Bangladesh without permission. The Rohingya have faced decades of discrimination and repression under the government, and are one of the largest stateless populations in the world. Strangely enough, Myanmar is led by Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner that was put under house arrest for standing against the former tyrannical regime. Though she advocated strongly for democracy and equality, she has yet to acknowledge or condemn the genocide.

Current Situation

In the recent months, thousands of Rohingya refugees have made their way to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Many are in dire need of health assistance, and the issue of sanitation in refugee camps is likely to worsen with the monsoon season, where they are at risk of flooding and the spread of waterborne diseases. Undersupported refugee camps are also likely to collapse when storms begin to occur; Carl Skau quoting the situation as a “crisis within a crisis”. The United Nations is currently working with Bangladesh’s government to help support the Rohingya by providing desperately needed basic necessities. However, divisions within the Security Council have slowed the sending of aid and peacekeeping troops within Myanmar; China and Russia are supporting the Myanmarese government in reducing criticism against them and preventing NGO’s from entering the area for investigation.


From January to March to 2015, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 25,000 people have traveled by boats with migrant smugglers. However, their journeys are not without risk. In fact, around 100 people died in Indonesia, 200 in Malaysia, and 10 in Thailand, after the traffickers abandoned them at sea. As of 2017, more than 600, 000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh after fleeing violence in Myanmar. As well, at least 288 villages have been partially or totally destroyed by fire in the Rakhine state.

Citations (MLA 8 Format):

“The Rohingya Crisis.” CNN, Cable News Network, 13 Sept. 2017,

“Myanmar Rohingya: What You Need to Know about the Crisis.” BBC News, BBC, 24 Apr. 2018,

“What Forces Are Fueling Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis?” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on

Foreign Relations,

“Rohingya Crisis.” Human Rights Watch,

http://www.un .org/News/dh/photos/large/2012/March/03-26-2012myanmar.jpg

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