61 NGOs warn of worsening crisis in Myanmar, call for refugees’ engagement on safe, voluntary returns

In joint statement, 61 NGO's working in Bangladesh and Myanmar warn of unsafe conditions for Rohingya-refugees if returned forcefully to Myanmar and called for inclusion of refugees in the decision-making of their future.


Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh (21 August 2019). Nearly 1 million Rohingya are still waiting for justice and a say about their future, two years after being forced from their homes by mass atrocities in Myanmar, and are struggling for safety and dignity in Bangladesh as refugees. In a joint statement released today, 61 local, national and international NGOs working in the two countries called for human rights for all to be recognized in Rakhine State and for Rohingya refugees to have a role in decision-making about their own lives, including conditions for their return to Myanmar.

The NGOs voiced strong concerns about the safety of affected families in Rakhine State, including Rohingya, as the conflict escalates and humanitarian access remains limited. They urged the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to ensure that any return process be safe, voluntary and dignified, as news of the possible expedited repatriation of 3,450 Rohingya refugees circulated this week.

For the past two years, NGOs have assisted the Government of Bangladesh and UN agencies to effectively provide life-sustaining support to people living in the world’s largest refugee camp. Their collective efforts have stabilized camp conditions, strengthened monsoon preparedness and helped prevent disease outbreaks. But the refugees need dignity - not merely survival. The agencies called on the international community to increase funding for the humanitarian response in Bangladesh and Myanmar to improve the lives of refugees and host communities, as well as internally displaced persons.

“While the current situation for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh in not a protective environment, or sustainable, it is vital that they are consulted in all decisions that affect them - including returns. And that they do not prematurely return to a situation where their rights and safety can’t be guaranteed,” said Mikkel Trolle, Regional Director of DRC: “Through our work in the refugee camps and the host communities in Cox’s Bazar, we’ve witnessed how the joint efforts of the Government of Bangladesh, UN agencies and NGOs have saved lives, but now it’s time to ensure that they also live in dignity and are self-reliant. Medium- and long-term solutions are urgently needed to protect the refugees and affected host community. Education, skills building and livelihoods are essential for any successful durable solution including reintegration to take place.”

Find the full statement here 


  • In Myanmar, some 128,000 displaced Rohingya, and other Muslim communities, have been confined to camps in Rakhine State since 2012, unable to return home.
  • In Bangladesh, refugee children need access to more robust educational services. More than 25,000 children are out of school. Further, 97 per cent of adolescents aged 15 to 18 years do not attend any type of educational facility.
  • In Bangladesh, the percentage of host community households living on less than USD60 a month spiked from 10 to 22 percent after the influx in August 2017.