In cooperation with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chittagong, Bangladesh, WISERD recently held a conference attended by 250 delegates on citizenship rights and the Rohingya crisis. This was part of a series of events stemming from a Global Challenge Research Fund project led by Professor Paul Chaney and Professor Nasir Uddin.
The Rohingya people are a Muslim minority group (a variation of the Sunni religion) from the western state of Rakhine, Myanmar. The government there does not recognise them as an ethnic group; effectively they lack legal protection and have been widely persecuted. In consequence they have fled to a number of Asian states. The south-eastern district of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh is the principal destination. Estimates vary, but it is widely accepted that approximately 500,000 unregistered Rohingya refugees reside in the camps in Bangladesh.
The event involved presentations from representatives of the Rohingya communities, international academics (from the UK, Canada, India and Bangladesh) and NGO stakeholders (including Save The Children, ActionAid and Oxfam). The purpose of the conference was to share accounts of the current crisis and explore the means to address it, in order to benefit communities in Bangladesh in accordance with the GCRF remit relating to citizenship rights and “understanding and responding effectively to forced displacement and multiple refugee crises”.
A report from the conference and workshop is being prepared. Among its key policy recommendations are: the need for greater food security for refugees, more effective international support for Bangladeshi authorities in dealing with the crisis, and concerted efforts to repair the environmental degradation occurring in and around the Cox’s Bazar camps.
Speaking of the conference and workshop, Professor Paul Chaney, said: “It is a privilege to work with Professor Uddin and Chittagong colleagues on these issues as part of WISERD’s research programme on civil society”.