The Rohingya Refugee Crisis: Humanitarian Efforts – Muntaqa Zaman

Muntaqa Zaman, post #4

Current humanitarian efforts regarding the Rohingya were ongoing as of 2019, but have slowed down considerably since the outbreak of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus. Humanitarian assistance can come in two main overarching forms: advocacy and aid. Aid is being continually provided to the Rohingya in camps in Bangladesh, both through local and international organizations. Additionally, groups that remain or have been barricaded in the Rakhine state depend solely on external aid for basic services (The New Humanitarian). As of 2020, groups are asking the international community for $877,000 million in funding in order to alleviate the crises. Humanitarian groups are following the steps necessary for providing aid – but advocacy and accountability are falling short.

From a legal point of view, there have been “at least three parallel attempts, in three separate courts, to pursue accountability” – the UN body has not attended to any of them (The New Humanitarian). And despite Bangladesh’s confirmation to UNICEF that the Rohingya would not be returned to Myanmar against their will, their have been talks about transferring the refugees to a nearby uninhabited island, effectively creating a detention center of sorts, to prevent even more overcrowding in the Cox Bazar border (UNICEF). How has this conflict grown to such proportions right under our noses? Historical similarities and parallels can be drawn to the nearly half-a-century old (in terms of Western news coverage) Palestinian and Israeli conflict. Native land is claimed by one ethnicity or race, while the other is driven from it – however, unlike the highly publicized conflict in the Middle East, there are no militaries being watched and judged by the international community. The imbalance of power, the claims to a nation, historical roots – all of these are luxuries afforded to a crisis that remains in the international and humanitarian spotlight due to Western interest. The Rohingya in Myanmar continue to receive aid, but their situation will remain the same if advocacy and accountability does not become a priority.


“UNICEF Welcomes Bangladesh Statement That Rohingya Will Not Be Forced to Leave | UN News.” United Nations, United Nations, 16 Nov. 2018,

“The Rohingya.” The New Humanitarian, 11 Mar. 2020,

  2 comments for “The Rohingya Refugee Crisis: Humanitarian Efforts – Muntaqa Zaman

  1. Sarah Diminuco
    April 13, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    I find your topic extremely interesting! In another class I am taking this semester we did a case study on the Rohingya Refugee Crisis and we have been talking about it a lot in context to COVID-19. Due to the massive size of camps, like Cox’s Bazar, the question of is it ethical to initiate a policy of containment and not let anymore people come to the camps came up. Considering the close quarters of the refugees, social distancing is not possible. Do you think that they should close the camps in order to prevent a possible spread of COVID-19? Or do you think that it is wrong to prevent people from coming in because they have no where else to go?
    -Sarah Diminuco

    • mrz4pd
      April 27, 2020 at 11:23 pm

      Sarah, thanks so much for your comment! Out of curiosity, would this other class be Professor Gelsdorf’s LPPS / humanitarian class? If so, I’m in there too and I really enjoyed this topic! You definitely pose a difficult question. On one hand, closing camp borders might endanger the Rohingya due to military forces that might still be on the lookout for them. On the other hand, social distancing will become extremely and increasingly difficult if people continue to crowd the existing settlements. Though this is certainly much more easier said than done, I think a call for peace in light of the coronovirus might be the only way to halt movement so that movement can be restricted for safety reasons. Allowing more people to come in would endanger the entire population of refugees currently residing in Cox Bazaar.

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