Myanmar – Addressing the crisis in Rakhine State

The conflict in Rakhine State escalated into a new phase of cross-border crisis in August 2017 when almost 700,000 stateless Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in what has become one of Asia’s largest refugee crisis. HD has been working to address the interconnected dimensions of this crisis through dialogue within Myanmar authorities as well as between the affected countries.

Background

HD’s involvement in the conflict in Rakhine State started in 2012, following the outbreak of communal violence. Since then, the organisation has been working on addressing the crisis in Rakhine State and the wider impact it has had on the region. Considering these two separate but connected dimensions to the crisis, HD has worked both internally in Rakhine State as well as regionally between the affected countries.

Attacks on police posts in 2016 and 2017 and the subsequent response from the Myanmar security forces led to a sharp deterioration of the situation in Rakhine State and the displacement of almost 700,000 refugees into Bangladesh. These events reaffirmed the need to also look at the implications of the Rakhine crisis on the broader region and especially Bangladesh considering the large share of refugees from Rakhine State currently residing there.

Activities

Internally, HD has worked on improving relations between the different communities in Rakhine State as well as between those communities and the Myanmar Government. The organisation’s expertise on dialogue and negotiations has been shared with community leaders and Government authorities both in Rakhine State and in Naypyitaw, including relevant experiences of managing conflict from within the region. Additionally, HD assisted all the parties in Rakhine State in conducting free, fair and peaceful elections in 2015, and provided advice to the Rakhine Advisory Commission headed by Kofi Annan in establishing a roadmap to improving the situation in Rakhine State.

Regionally, HD has provided a discreet platform for affected countries to meet regularly to discuss the developments in Rakhine State and their impact on the region, as well as to find solutions to address the crisis. Since the deterioration of the situation in Rakhine State following the events of October 2016 and August 2017, particular focus has been put on improving bilateral relations between Myanmar and Bangladesh. To bring in the voices of those affected by the current crisis, HD has also worked on consulting affected populations to identify their needs and wishes and feed those back into international discussions.