privacy policy

Between Powerlessness and Agency: Engagement in the Rohingya Crisis


· Vathsala Aithal University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt (Würzburg, Germany)


07/28 | 16:10-16:30 UTC+2/CEST


The displacement of 800,000 Rohingya from Myanmar since September 2017 and their flight to neighbouring Bangla Desh has led to several challenges. Political analyses on the reasons for displacement range from geo-political to economic interests to radicalization til ethnic cleansing and genocide. Despite empirical evidence available the UN and the international community are hesitant to name Myanmar’s move as genocide that as per international law could prompt action against it. For the displaced Rohingya it is a question of remaining in Bangla Desh without refugee status or returning to Myanmar without rights. Myanmar has, in fact, made provisions for resettlement, but voluntary return seems unlikely as the state refuses to grant the Rohingya full citizenship rights. Bangla Desh, showing hospitality to such large number of people, has its own limitations. Despite economic advancement in the last years it is still a developing country with major challenges. Global warning and the rise of the water level pose a constant challenge, the arrival of the refugees worsening the situation. Socially, host communities are threatened by the arrival of the newcomers. In this situation of instability and restricted conditions urgent questions arise: how can we conceptualize the agency of the Rohingya themselves as well as the stakeholders (policy makers, NGOs, social workers)? How can the Rohingya and the host communities be empowered? Can we develop a South Asian perspective on displacement? In an innovative (interdisciplinary and multiperspective)approach the paper discusses durable solutions in the context of protracted displacement for refugees as well as the host communities.