The Rohingya Refugee Crisis in Bangladesh

Rohingya Refugee Crisis

Written by Riya Singh

From Lovely Professional University

Since August 2017, over 700,000 Rohingya have fled neighbouring Myanmar in search of safety in Bangladesh, resulting in an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. A multitude of humanitarian actors are involved in the massive task of providing and overseeing humanitarian activities in the camps hosting Rohingya refugees. The study looks at the structure and evolution of the humanitarian actions to ascertain the extent of localization or the involvement of Bangladeshi actors in the management of the camps during the early (1-2 year) stages of the crisis. It employs a quantitative method by looking at the 4W figures from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The humanitarian international sector is divided into national and international non-governmental groups, and a network analysis of these organisations shows that the essay examines the structure and development of humanitarian activities. By examining the 4W statistics from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, it uses a quantitative approach. A network analysis and the division of humanitarian operators by national and international non-governmental organisations indicate that the humanitarian international players control the majority of humanitarian efforts, and localization was not accomplished in the early phases of the crisis. The piece can be used by both academic and general audiences because it also includes a profile of the humanitarian effort and the history and context of the issue.

Key Words: Rohingya, Bangladesh, Humanitarian operations, Localization


The Rohingya refugee issue, which has extended from Myanmar to Bangladesh, a neighbouring country, is causing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Managing agencies classified about 855,000 refugees as in need of humanitarian aid (JRP 2020, page 42), with over 700,000 of those migrants arriving after August 2017. The Government of Bangladesh and humanitarian organisations must exert significant effort to provide for and supervise the administration of humanitarian activities in the camps housing Rohingya refugees, given the gravity of the situation. The study came up because it was necessary to look at the humanitarian efforts made to address the problem. Because the actors’ level of engagement varies so much in the first two years of the crisis, the article’s main focus is tracking the evolution during this time. Research on the issue of handling the Rohingya refugee crisis is rather lacking. To date, most of the attention has been focused on issues relating to relocation and repatriation. An early illustration of this can be found in the special issue on the Rohingya published in the Overseas Development Institute’s Humanitarian Exchange Magazine. publications by Bowden (2018), Crisp (2018), and Wencel et al. (2018) about refugees in Bangladesh. Shevach et al. (2018) talked about responses to the same humanitarian exchange issue throughout the first 100 days. The early phases of the operation were reported by Lewis (2019), one of the first academic attempts to document humanitarian management in response to the Rohingya refugee crisis. Cook and Foo (2019) provided a comprehensive explanation of the organisational frameworks utilised by the humanitarian responses to the tragedy. For the report to serve as a benchmark for further studies, it also makes an effort to document the humanitarian efforts made during the crisis’ early stages. 4W data analysis has also been used to accomplish this. The conclusions of the paper naturally bring up questions for further research, including locating the localization barrier, however, no effort has been taken to address these difficulties as they will require a more thorough analysis. The relevance of the discovery and its possible contributions to further research are covered in more detail later in the article.

The research is organised as follows. In the next section, we briefly review the history of the Rohingya refugee crisis and the current situation. The literature review section follows. An overview of the humanitarian response to the crisis, including the role played by both domestic and foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs), is included in the section that follows. Before delving more into the specifics of the outcomes, the strategy is covered in the next section. The conclusion and the results’ consequences are covered in the following sections.


The Rohingya population has been fleeing Myanmar for the past 50 years, but their 2017 migration has drawn notice and been covered by foreign media. Significant inflows occurred in 1978, 1992, 2012, 2016 and more recently. The Rohingya people are an ethnic minority in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. However, Myanmar refuses to recognise the Rohingya as a genuine ethnic community or citizen of the country. The Rohingya people are an ethnic minority in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. However, Myanmar refuses to recognise the Rohingya as a genuine ethnic community or citizen of the country. The Rohingya people are denied citizenship rights by Myanmar and are subject to continued persecution, which is one of the main reasons of the refugee crisis. Among the publications and articles that address the background and context of this issue, Ibrahim (2016) stands out because it debunks beliefs regarding the origins of the Rohingya people and establishes their existence before the British occupation of colonial Myanmar in the eighteenth century. Dussish (2018) offers a very useful timeline of the historical events leading up to the current scenario.
The timeline shows that in 1948, Burma (renamed Myanmar in 1989) won its freedom from British colonial authority. Violent disputes erupted amongst Burma’s numerous ethnic groupings. This started the waves of internal displacement and exodus of ethnic groups that continue to this day. The Rohingya were also denied citizenship credentials during this period, and for the first time, they were not recognised as one of the ethnic groups known as the National Races of Myanmar (Ibrahim, 2016). ). In the end, this allowed for the denial of citizenship in the future. Another significant year was 1962 when Burma was placed under military dictatorship. The Rohingya population was subjected to severe persecution, which forced them to flee to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, India, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, as well as Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) (Dussish, 2018). In 1982, a Citizenship Act declared them to be formally stateless. Individuals who belong to one of the so-called The Act grant “national races” full citizenship, particularly if they were inhabitants of Myanmar before to 1823. Rohingya were not allowed to be in this group since, upon gaining independence in 1948, they were not recognised as one of the national races or included in other categories. The alternative path to citizenship necessitates providing “conclusive evidence” of residence before the independence in 1948. The Rohingya did not receive citizenship documents upon their independence in 1948 (Ibrahim, 2016, pp. 48–51), hence they did not have that “conclusive evidence.” Cheesman (2017) provides an interesting account of how national racial ideology developed in Myanmar and how it superseded citizenship. In 1971, Bangladesh broke apart from Pakistan. In 1978, there was a major inflow of Rohingya people into Bangladesh. The major operation known as “Dragon King” (Naga-Min) by the Burmese military regime, which began in February 1978, led over 200,000 people to flee to Bangladesh. .. In the years that followed, many of them returned to Myanmar for reasons that were covered in great length in a study conducted by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) (Lindquist, 1979). Another notable return of Rohingya to Bangladesh occurred in 1992 when 250,000 of them left. Finally, in 2012, there was violence in Rakhine between Muslims and Buddhists, which resulted in internal displacement for both communities. The Rohingya escaped to Bangladesh once more in quest of protection. On August 25, 2017, a large-scale crackdown on the Rohingya population took place in reaction to a purported attack on a police checkpoint by a militant Rohingya group. As a result, there was an unparalleled influx of Rohingya individuals into Bangladesh. Unlike the preceding influxes that received less attention, the post-augury 2017 situation captured the attention of the international media (Gartel, 2013). It should be noted that the extent of the issue with this migration from Myanmar differs greatly from that of the last one. Lindquist (1979) compared the 1978 migration to the boat people that arrived in Malaysia from Vietnam. The scale of the 2017 migration was noticeably larger.


This section aims to provide readers with an understanding of the basic principles guiding the humanitarian response to the Rohingya refugee crisis. The writers conducted desk research and the analysis reported in this section based on their visits to the refugee camps and the surrounding areas. Understanding of camp management was developed through conversations with GoB representatives and non-governmental organisations. The humanitarian response to the Rohingya refugee crisis is divided into two components. Government and law enforcement make up the first, while humanitarian activity is included in the second. The umbrella group in charge of the humanitarian activities, which are mostly conducted by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), is called the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG). Law enforcement and administration are under the GoB’s purview.


Bangladesh, a rapidly developing country, is set to go through a transitional period as it attempts to control COVID-19 while balancing the need to continue economic growth. One of the main obstacles to the country’s development and progress is the Rohingya issue. Forcefully displaced individuals from Myanmar, or FDMNs, are considered the “most persecuted refugees” in the world. Along its tumultuous border with Myanmar, Bangladesh has welcomed more than 1.1 million million refugees who are Rohingya since August 2017. In response to the most recent humanitarian crisis in 2017, Bangladesh opened its borders and provided aid to the voiceless Arakan Muslims; the Myanmar military had previously carried out at least three targeted military crackdowns against the Rohingyas in 1978, 1992, and 2016. One of these operations was known as Operation Dragon King. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu, promoted human security concepts in his foreign policy endeavours. Examples of this include Bangladesh’s choice to become a member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), its vocal opposition to Israel’s occupation of Palestine, and its coordinated efforts to support oppressed people around the world.

In recent times, Bangladesh has taken a more active role in maintaining global peace and security, led by Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Bangabandhu. It still supplies the majority of the troops for U.N. peacekeeping operations and has received recognition from the organisation for halting climate change and meeting the goals of its immunisation campaign. Since 2017, Bangladesh has submitted three suggestions to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in an attempt to resolve the long-running Rohingya crisis.



One of the worst humanitarian crises to hit the world in the previous five years is the Rohingya refugee crisis. The involvement of humanitarian agencies in crisis management is understudied, even though the crisis itself has drawn attention from academics and the worldwide media. Some recent articles have sought to fill this knowledge gap. In this study, we present a quantitative examination of the relationship between the management of activities and the involvement of humanitarian actors. The article covered the first one to two years of operation and included an organisation profile. The evolution of the number of local humanitarian organisations in the 4W data has been used to address the localization question. Data study indicates that early humanitarian efforts in response to the Rohingya refugee crisis did not succeed in localising since local organisations were still required to take the lead in overseeing humanitarian operations. The analysis confirms findings that have been reported in the media and other research studies. As a starting point for further research, this article offered an extensive overview of the background, circumstances, and individual profiles of humanitarian actors in connection with the Rohingya refugee crisis.

  1. Rohingya Crisis: How Bangladesh Became a Symbol of Humanitarianism, available at: symbol-of-humanitarianism/ (last visited on 18th April 2024).
  2. Rohingya Crisis: The Picture Of Fund Crisis And Its Impacts, available at: Crisis-The-Picture-of?lang=fr (last visited on 18th April 2024).
  3. Rohingya Crisis, available at: (last visited on 17th April 2024).
  4. Diplomatic dimensions of Rohingya crisis, available at: Rohingya-crisis/ (last visited on 20th April 2024).

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