The Rohingya Crisis and the Emergence of ‘Humanitarian’ Bangladesh

Delwar Hossain

Professor of International Relations, University of Dhaka, and the Director of the East Asia Center, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.


The Rohingya crisis entered a new phase since 25 August 2017. The exodus of more than 750,000 Rohingyas into Bangladesh reinforced the ongoing Rohingya crisis at an unprecedented scale. It marks a new level of suppression and brutality by the Myanmar regime. Despite identifying the crisis as a result of ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘genocide’, the global response has been timid and inadequate largely due to the pursuits of geopolitical interests over humanitarianism. Bangladesh is an exception to this pessimistic and parochial outlook of national interests. Bangladesh has not only provided its own resources to mitigate the suffering of the Rohingyas, but it has also mobilized global diplomacy to an unprecedented scale in support of the permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis. The purpose of the paper is to understand how Bangladesh has emerged as a humanitarian state. It maps out and understands the policies and actions of Bangladesh in response to the Rohingya crisis. It seeks to reorient critical analysis of the Bangladesh response away from traditional geopolitics and instead towards humanitarian considerations associated with global norms and values. In fact, the paper posits a paradox of how an LDC with enormous resource constraints and acute population pressure, Bangladesh can come forward to support more than a million persecuted and distressed people on earth when powerful nations with plenty of resources and wealth shy away from humanitarian appeals of thousands of Rohingya children, women and men.

Keywords: Rohingya, Diplomacy, Bangladesh, Humanitarianism, Foreign Policy of Bangladesh.


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