Rohingya Crisis

27 October 2017

A slum around the UNHCR-government run camp of Kutupalong which existed before the current crisis.. Photo credit: EU/ECHO/Pierre Prakash

Due to violence in Myanmar, more than 600,000 Rohingya people have been forced to flee to Bangladesh and are in need of food, shelter and protection.

The Rohingya (pronounced ro-hin-jah)  are a minority Muslim ethnic group who are denied citizenship by the Government in Mynanmar. They have lived for centuries in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

The latest exodus began on 25 August 2017 when violence broke out between the Myanmar army and Rohingya fighters, after Rohingya fighters attacked the police and government soldiers. A Rohingya group called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) claimed responsibility for the attack. The disproportionate response of the Mynamar military led to violence in which hundreds of people were killed and tens of thousands were forced to flee from their homes.

Refugees arrive by boat at Shah Porir Dwip Island in Bangladesh. Credit: British Red Cross
Refugees arrive by boat in Bangladesh.

Before August, there were already over 300,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangldesh, living in camps, makeshift settlements and with host communities. Most Rohingya refugees reaching Bangladesh have sought shelter in these areas, setting up camp wherever possible in the difficult terrain and with little access to aid, safe drinking water, food, shelter or healthcare.

Teaching resources on the Rohingya crisis

The following resources and links can help you explore the crisis in class, helping your pupils develop critical thinking skills and build empathy with refugees.

The British Red Cross have produced a teaching activity, for ages 11-19  which provides learners with the opportunity to reflect on the crisis by considering some of the individuals involved and thinking about what people really need in a situation like this.

These resources from Oxfam include practical activities to explore the crisis, films, and a slideshow with pictures from Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh, enabling pupils to learn more about the needs of people in a refugee camp.

For younger readers, BBC Newsround has useful background to the crisis and the BBC’s summary of  the crisis is here.  This update from the BBC shows in pictures what refugees are experiencing as they flee to Bangladesh.

Find the latest updates from the Guardian and UNHCR on crisis.

What does it mean to be stateless?

The Rohingya are considered a Stateless people. The UN  Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has a useful summary on their website of what it means to be stateless

The context of the wider refugee crisis

Browse our website under the topic ‘Migration and Refugees’ to find more resources exploring these issues and the experiences of people fleeing their homes.

This blog by Kate Lea, former teacher and Education & Youth Strategic Advisor at Oxfam shares a personal view of the situation in Bangladesh and explores how to talk about global crises with your learners.

Taking Action
Campaigning

Oxfam’s Stand As One Campaign has teaching resources to enable pupils to  discover the lives and experiences of refugees before writing compelling postcards to MPs on the issue of family reunion. The campaign is leading up to a vote on March 16 2018, when MPs will vote on a bill to reunite refugee families. This resource aimed at 8-14 year-olds is also part of the campaign and contains a film and accompanying notes

Giving

The Disasters Emergency Committee is a coalition of 13 leading UK aid charities responding to emergencies including Oxfam and the British Red Cross. You can donate via their  Emergency Appeal

Photos:

Top:  A large rural slum around the UNHCR-government run camp of Kutupalong in Bangladesh. Before the current crisis began, there were already 300,000 Rohingya refugees living in and around refugee camps Bangladesh. People living outside the official camp don’t have access to any government or UN services. Photo credit: EU/ECHO/Pierre Prakash. 2015.

Middle: Refugees arrive at Shah Porir Dwip island in Bangladesh. September 2017. Photo credit: British Red Cross.

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