Whether it’s on the phone, on our Facebook page or through email – we’ve been thrilled to see how many of you want to learn and understand more about one of the world’s largest refugee crises. So here’s the Top 6 questions you’ve been asking and the answers to go with them.

Got some more questions? Please let us know on 0800 800 777.


How did the Rohingya refugee crisis happen?

The Rohingya people are called ‘stateless’ and have been living in a small part of Myanmar called Rakine State for generations. It is there they feel they have suffered dehumanizing oppression. In August 2017 a group called the ARSA (Rohingya insurgents) were involved in brutal and bloody attacks on the Myanmar military in an attempt to liberate themselves. Despite the fact that they’d been forced to live under apartheid-like conditions, the actions of ARSA are inexcusbale. The Burmese military responded with equal brutality and violence against the Rohingya people. Their actions are also inexcusable. The victims in all this are the many many MANY innocent children, women, and men caught up in this violence, be it families torn apart because of the violence of the ARSA, or families torn apart because of the violence of the Burmese military.


What’s the long term outlook for these refugees? Will they have to live there for years?

There are two long term outlooks for these refugees: One is to ultimately return back to Myanmar, and the other is to remain in Cox's Bazar indefinitely. The first option is what most of the refugees want and that’s what the Bangladesh government want. Sadly, that’s not looking very likely at the moment because the Myanmar government does not want to recognize the Rohingya people as citizens and Bangladesh does not want to recognize the Rohingya people as refugees. So right now, they’re stuck in ‘no man’s land’. Despite the fact that a resolution was made to return about 700,000 Rohingya people, none of them want to go because the conditions on return are akin to living in a prison camp.

At Tearfund we believe that the best possible solution would be for these refugees to be given a safe, voluntary and dignified re-entry into Myanamar with the full rights of citizens being given as they cross over the border. But given the U.N. has accused military leaders in Myanmar of acts of genocide, we need to ensure the Rohingya can return safely, and with dignity, before sending anyone back across the border. Failing that, we would hope that the Rohingya people would be given full rights as refugees in Bangladesh with the opportunity to stay there longer term and find a job.


What have you found most surprising about the situation?

The most surprising thing I’ve seen is how the Rohingya people have gone through so much unspeakable violence and trauma and yet are still standing. The resiliency of these people is astounding.

I stand in awe at how brave, strong and resourceful these people are. The hardest thing for me to see on my latest visit is how this crisis is far from over. People really are in a desperate state and we need to stay with them, to keep caring. These people are not allowed to build a permanent home, not allowed to work, not allowed to send their children to high school, not allowed to even leave the camps. If they choose to go back to Myanmar, the persecution would most certainly continue.


I'm a bit concerned with this story of them being relocated to an island in the Bay of Bengal. It seems a very flood and storm prone place for so many children.

Yes, so are we. It’s a ridiculous idea and one the wider international community does not endorse. We seriously doubt this will be a viable option.


It's always good to know and see where the giving is going and how effective it is. Where are the donations you receive going?

Tearfund is working with our local partners on the ground to provide language classes, vocational training, nutrition support, youth clubs and psychosocial support. Despite unbelievably difficult odds, two things give me hope. The incredible determination and resilience of the Rohingya people and the growing community of Tearfund supporters getting stirred up to stand with these people. Please consider making a donation to help this critical work continue.


I want to educate myself more on this Rohingya Crisis? Can you recommend any links?

Yes, we can! In August for the one year anniversary, we took TV3’s Michael Morrah and a cameraman to file some stories about what life is like for these people. You can view all five of those stories by clicking on the links below:



Helen Manson in Iraq huddled amongst a group of children
Helen Manson is a Tearfund Field Communications Specialist.


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