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61 NGOs Warn of Worsening Crisis in Myanmar, Call for Refugees’ Engagement on Safe, Voluntary Returns

August 20th, 2019  •  Author:   International Rescue Committee  •  3 minute read

Nearly one million Rohingya are still waiting for justice and a say about their future, two years after being forced from their homes by mass atrocities in Myanmar, and are struggling for safety and dignity in Bangladesh as refugees. In a joint statement released today, 61 local, national and international NGOs working in the two countries called for human rights for all to be recognized in Rakhine State and for Rohingya refugees to have a role in decision-making about their own lives, including conditions for their return to Myanmar.

The NGOs voiced strong concerns about the safety of affected families in Rakhine State, including Rohingya, as the conflict escalates and humanitarian access remains limited. They urged the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to ensure that any return process be safe, voluntary and dignified, as news of the possible expedited repatriation of 3,450 Rohingya refugees circulated this week.

For the past two years, NGOs have assisted the Government of Bangladesh and UN agencies to effectively provide life-sustaining support to people living in the world’s largest refugee camp. Their collective efforts have stabilized camp conditions, strengthened monsoon preparedness and helped prevent disease outbreaks. But more needs to be done. The agencies called on the international community to increase funding for the humanitarian response in Bangladesh and Myanmar to improve the lives of refugees and host communities, as well as internally displaced persons.

Manish Agrawal, Country Director for the International Rescue Committee in Bangladesh said: “The future of Rohingya refugees is at stake. Refugees tell us that they need more than just humanitarian aid. They need opportunities for education, for training and to build their own livelihoods, which will enable them to thrive in years to come and when it comes to return to Myanmar if conditions become conducive, they return stronger. As we mark two years, and wait for conditions in Myanmar to improve for safe and dignified return, the International Rescue Committee calls on donors around the world to step up their support for the almost one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, including ensuring that the response is fully funded, and urges the Government of Bangladesh to continue their hospitality.”


  • In Myanmar, some 128,000 displaced Rohingya, and other Muslim communities, have been confined to camps in Rakhine State since 2012, unable to return home.
  • In Bangladesh, refugee children need access to more robust educational services. More than 25,000 children are out of school. Further, 97 per cent of adolescents aged 15 to 18 years do not attend any type of educational facility.
  • In Bangladesh, the percentage of host community households living on less than USD60 a month spiked from 10 to 22 percent after the influx in August 2017.

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